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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 11/19/21

I Was Dreaming When I Wrote This...

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"I've traveled the world and the seven seas Everybody's lookin' for something" - Eurythmics

Shortly after dropping out of college, I began having a recurring dream where I would realize that I had misread my schedule and had missed going to one class for an entire semester. After a torturous process of finding the correct classroom, I would enter and find out that the final exam was about to begin. If this test was not passed I would get a failing grade. It was usually at this point that I would wake up with a start, my heart beating rapidly.

Probably not coincidentally, I stopped having this dream when I finally earned my college degree after attending night school. By finally completing the task that I had begun 15 years earlier, I exercised my demons and paved the way for a more restful night's sleep.

I am not sure when, but the nightmare that I thought had been robbed of its relevance eventually found a successor. In the sequel, I am unexpectedly called to play the drums in front of an audience but find myself woefully unprepared. In one version I may be missing drumsticks, in another, I cannot get my drums set up correctly. The result is always the same; I wake up suddenly in a sweat with my heart racing.

Unlike my then unfinished schooling, I do not think that my suspended musical ambitions are driving this version of the recurring dream. With my first attempt at college, I failed spectacularly in my senior year, my studies unable to compete with a series of personal challenges. In comparison, I pursued my musical dreams for decades before this interest was pushed to the side by other endeavors. The time spent practicing in the garage and writing lyrics segued into time at a computer writing my blog. I did not lose the book, I had started a new chapter.

A clue to the source of my nocturnal anxiety may have been answered last week during one of my sleep periods. In this version of the nightmare, I was given the chance to play drums with one of my favorite bands, Nightwish. Without even getting to practice with the band I was expected to take the stage.

The first thing that I panicked about was that I only had one pair of drumsticks and nobody could find me the backups that I would surely need. As I warmed up on a tabletop I noticed that one of them was broken and could feel the familiar vibration that a drumstick gives off before shattering in two. However, I did not wake up in a panic. Instead, I turned the sticks over and played with the butt end.

As I took the stage I realized that my drums were set up incorrectly, with parts of the kit facing the wrong way. Still, I soldiered on, feeling pride as I successfully played critical fills. At every possible break, I fixed the set a little more. Somehow my sticks did not break.

What finally woke me up from the dream was not panic but my alarm clock telling me that it was time for work. My heart was racing. Not in a flight or fight kind of way but from a rush of adrenaline. It was a type of high that took me back to my days of performing on stage.

If completing college allowed me to escape the forgotten class version of this nightmare, what was driving my id to finally put this iteration of the dream to bed? It had nothing to do with performing as my drums are currently residing in my garage under a thick layer of dust. Maybe it's the confidence generated by my new job after a rough couple of years in my professional life. It could also be the thrill of my COVID-delayed trip to Europe to see Nightwish looming on the horizon, representing a step towards normal. Perhaps I am just at peace with where I am at this stage of my life, proud of where I have been and confident in the journey forward. That, after all, is a recipe for sweet dreams.

Carl Petersen is a parent advocate for students with special education needs and public education. He is an elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council and serves as the Education Chair. As a Green Party candidate in LAUSD's District 2 School Board race, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action. Dr. Diane Ravitch has called him "a valiant fighter for public schools in Los Angeles." For links to his blogs, please visit Opinions are his own.

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Carl Petersen is a parent, an advocate for students with special education needs, an elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council, a member of the LAUSD's CAC, and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD's District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, the Network for Public Education (NPE) Action endorsed him, and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a " (more...)

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