Thursday, October 14, 2004

Cooking lessons

I'm working too much. And not enough. It's all getting on top of me. I can tell because I've started having weird and paranoid work dreams. Last night's dreams were lovely until just before I woke up, when suddenly I was being told about a new class I would have to teach soon. I was handed the list of students.

"Forty five students?" I said. "That's far too many. I don't want to do it."

"Oh, don't worry about that," said my boss (well, one of them - I have several). "That's just the official list. You only ever get one or two students turning up. Follow me. I'll show you the classroom and you'll see the teacher we've got doing it now."

I followed him through a corridors, up some stairs, along another corridor, down some other stairs, up a lift, through a building, down another lift, along a corridor, around a corner, up a lift again, down a few more stairs, around another corner, up some more stairs, and finally, when I was completely lost, we got to a tiny room where a teacher was working with a solitary student, who was standing by looking goofy.

"See?" said my boss. "Only one student!"

The teacher was a guy I worked with today, and I told him about this dream. He laughed.

"One student, eh?"he said. "If only!"

He laughed even harder when I told him that in my dream he was teaching the student how to cook chicken. "You lifted an entire chicken skeleton out of a big pot, using chopsticks," I told him, "and then you tossed it at the student and shouted, 'TAKE THIS!'"

But even though it was a funny dream it also left me feeling anxious, because in the dream I accepted the class (or was bullied into accepting it), when I knew I should have confessed to the boss that I can't cook. I can only pretend to cook. And besides, I'd never find the classroom again.

One of my students told me today that he didn't really want to live. He was dreading having to get a job, he said, and in two years he'll have to. But there is nothing he wants to do. He can't see any future for himself. He thinks it might be easier to die.

"Perhaps," he said, and shrugged and smiled, but his eyes were pleading.

I felt like I did in the dream. I'm only pretending to know how to deal with this.