09 August 2008

A Dream & Anticipation

In my final cat-nap stretch of sleep before crawling (literally--our current co-sleeping bed arrangement is funky) out of bed this morning I had a vivid dream. Charlie and I were at a little farmer's market. I think he was on my back in the Ergo. There were eggplants of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the usual dark purple to lavender/white in color. And I think there were mushrooms growing here and there. Many people were crowding around the wooden bins where the eggs were. There was a mess of broken eggs and empty cartons. We were there especially to buy eggs and I was upset when some folks grabbed the last bunch. "I need them to feed my family!" I pleaded. I don't remember the exact resolution of this part--as dreams go we were moved into a dormitory type room with a wood-framed bunk/loft type bed. It was a small space--all wood paneling, and filled with debris like dried leaves, mushrooms, cobwebs, bugs, etc. It was somewhere I had stayed before and I was excited about being there and sharing it with Charlie, and I eagerly picked up a broom and vigorously began sweeping away the webs and clutter. I woke up with a good feeling.

Even without the online dream dictionary (here's one to check out), it was easy for me to understand this one. After nearly ten years I am going back to school to complete my Master's degree in English. When I left the program I had two incompletes and an unwritten thesis, and I was in a difficult place emotionally, having opened the door to search for my birth family and dealing with some powerful feelings which surfaced. I also had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. While applying to Ph. D. programs that final semester, I realized my motivation for a career in academia was driven by a need for external validation (college professor=worthy/valuable person) rather than a love for the work itself. Truth is, my real motivation to read and learn was not about love for the work of interpreting literature, but to better understand myself and my place in the world. I hated writing papers; the critical part of my mind went into hyper-drive and writing was an excruciatingly constipated process. In fact, this blog is the first time I've been able to enjoy writing in all these years. In school, despite a progressive-minded department, I could not write freely and creatively for myself; instead, I needed to meet specific criteria, and do so well enough to merit the almighty A. Now I'm a lifelong unschooler and much happier.

For a time my mind was in a lachrymose haze, unable to complete a coherent paragraph, much less write the papers to finish my degree. And soon I was overly preoccupied with making a living; we were dirt poor and needed to get on our feet financially. I almost went back to school while we lived in New Mexico--both jobs I had there required teaching certification, but I just couldn't afford the tuition. And we got the itch to move back east, where I worked my way up the ladder in retail and Shad enrolled at UNCA to finish his degree. Then came Charlie. School was nowhere on the map.

Once in a while I thought about looking into completing the degree. I assumed it would be more work and more money than I would be able to manage. I even revisited my thesis research to see if writing it might be a viable option, but the idea was overwhelming, and I'm no longer the same person who started that project, so how could I finish it now with any coherency?

While it wasn't something I would brag about, I was at peace with the situation. After all, lacking the piece of paper did not mean I lacked the education. My time in grad school, coupled with my experience teaching, was invaluable--as painful as that time was, it was essential to the process of finding myself and becoming a secure and more confident person. I had no regrets, even without the formal closure of a diploma in hand.

Then through toddler fun I met Jessica, who encouraged me to look into teaching at the local community college where she is an adjunct in the English Department--a flexible job in which she managed to avoid expensive child care for her son. I loved teaching, and found myself with enough motivation to inquire about completing my degree. I only need one class, which I can take here and transfer to my alma matter for credit.

So it's all coming together, and I'm a bit surprised by how excited I am to be clearing out those dusty cobwebs inside myself and steering my life in a new direction (eggs) which I had not anticipated. The mess with the eggs in my dream likely reflects my anxiety over getting registered at the last minute--I've called admissions more than once to make sure there is no glitch holding up my entry in the system. I'm not one who likes to wait until the last minute, and I'm concerned that the class I want might be full. But these issues should be resolved this week. And the presence of the vegetables just confirms for me that this change will be a nourishing one.

What a pleasant feeling to have these images floating around my mind and to detect an almost crisp quality to the air this morning, and to notice some leaves gathering at the trunk of the Ash Maple in the backyard--suggesting that autumn will be here before long, and change is good.