I had a weird dream last night.
Well, that was a silly thing to say. Isn’t it the nature of dreams to be weird? That’s why I dislike them so much — they leave me feeling queasy and uneasy. When I found out that vitamin B-6 in the evening can help you remember your dreams, I immediately revised my vitamin-taking schedule to make sure I don’t ingest B vitamins in the evening. And it helped.
[In checking to make sure I was right about the specific vitamin that helps with dream recall, I noticed that all the articles were based on “new research” done in 2018, but I’d stopped taking the vitamin at night decades before that, so that “new research” was actually rehashed old research.]
What also helps is that if I do remember a dream when I wake, I immediately put something else in my head.
This morning, however, something banged against the house on the other side of the wall where I have my bed, and it woke me with a start. And somehow the dream stayed with me.
In the dream, I was visiting with my sophomore-year high school English teacher, and I decided to give her my latest book. My dreaming self could clearly see the published book, though when I went to get it, I couldn’t put my hand on it, and I realized the book hadn’t yet been published because I no longer have a publisher. And then . . . bang!
In that first moment of waking, I decided to go ahead and self-publish the book so I could give it to her, then it dawned on me that I hadn’t even written it yet. Didn’t even have a clue as to what the book would be about. Would never give that teacher a book of mine if I ever happened to see her.
The dream seems rather banal, now that I think about it. It was the bang at that precise moment that seemed weird, especially since I couldn’t tell if the bang waking me up was a real-life sound or a dream-induced sound.
Another odd thing is that this particular dream had its roots in a decades-old incident. That particular teacher once told me that she’d saved papers from every one of her students she thought would one day become a writer, then she looked directly into my eyes and said, “But I never saved anything of yours.”
I have no idea what she thought she was accomplishing by that statement, though it seems another example of how fellow students often thought I was “teacher’s pet,” but that teachers generally hated me. (In both cases, now that I think about it, it had to be due to my always knowing the answer. I was one of those silly students who read the schoolbooks the first few days of school, and then had nothing left to learn the rest of the time. I did get smart, though. When I realized some teachers refused to call on me anymore, I stopped listening to them.)
I clearly remember leaving my third-grade classroom at the end of the year. The teacher was sobbing and telling each student in turn how much she would miss him or her. Then it was my turn. She glared at me briefly without saying anything, then turned to the girl behind me and continued her sobbing good-byes.
And then there was my senior-year high school English teacher, who got a horrified look on her face when I walked into her class after everyone was already seated. (The advanced class I’d signed up for had too many people, and instead of being fair and eliminating the last to sign up, the teacher drew a name out of a hat — the only time in my life I ever “won” a drawing.) I’d had that horror-stricken teacher for freshman English, and she hadn’t liked me . . . not at all. And so we were stuck with each other for another year. (Though not really. I asked her if I could take the class independently — teaching myself, in other words — and she jumped at the opportunity.)
But this is getting far from the dream. I have a hunch the dream was more about writing and publishing than anything that happened so many decades ago.
I won’t ever go through the process of trying to find an agent or publisher again, and both my previous publishers have had very little luck with my books, so that leaves only one option — to self-publish, which is something I never wanted to do. Because of the confounding situation, it’s easier to not write at all (except for this blog).
Still, the dream seems to indicate either that I’m not through with writing yet or that writing isn’t through with me. Or conversely, it could indicate I took a B vitamin way too late in the evening.
Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.