I can’t remember the last time I had an anxiety dream about school. It came in two parts, much like the program has a residency section and a non-residency section.
I’m a home for the first part, but home looks more like the crappy post-war urban sprawl of Orange County. Not The OC everyone sees on TV but the real OC filled with ranch style tract homes with cinder block walls and colored rock lawns.
I’m supposed to hand in a part of my manuscript equal to one-fifth of he final length but like Zeno’s Paradox the more I write the farther away the end of he chapter gets. I can never get more that two-thirds of the way through. (It’s like a math anxiety dream as well, I can only get two-thirds of one-fifth, but the X in my equation keeps shifting.) I’m writing furiously, even while standing and walking around. I’m not even using a keyboard, I’m thinking up sentences and seeing them float in the air above me and physical pages magically appear in my hand. I think there’s some connection to M.T. Anderson’s Feed going on but I’m not sure why.
Cut to a party. It seems to be at school, in the cafeteria, a place unlike one I’ve ever seen before. Everyone’s on a short break but the food’s not ready and probably won’t be before we have to get back to class. While we’re waiting for the food a teacher is asking me to explain how the tempo of mariachi music has translated into the modern beat of hip-hop. While using an empty paper towel tube to beat out a rhythm against a counter the scene changes — it’s now the private home of YA author John Green. Everyone is anxious because Led Zeppelin are going to come play but they don’t have a bass player. Someone remembers that I played viola when I was in high school and that makes me the most qualified to be drafted into service.
It’s a party, everywhere people are drinking nog and piling plates full of food, but I’ll running around trying to find out what songs are on the set list and generally working myself into an ulcer because I’m sure I’m going to be exposed as a sham. I ask for a bass to start practicing on but all John has around the house is a half-sized plastic electric cello made for video game Guitar Hero (I guess for those 90s indy rock songs?). While I’m practicing in the kitchen everyone else seems to be enjoying themselves and worse they all have instruments and are taking turns playing songs around the house. I’m recognizing Irish lullabies and folk songs and then I hear Led Zep in the next room tuning up.
I think it’s clear to everyone else that I cannot play but no one says anything; their silence and pretending I’m not there makes it apparent they are embarrassed for me. Once I get around to learning some fingering on he cello — and John Green gives me a little encouragement here — the band have finished playing and packed up and left. With that out of the way I ask around and find out that everyone has their writing ready to hand in the next day and they’ve had it ready for days if no weeks. I ask around to try and get a sense of how long their manuscripts are, what they’re about, and everyone sort of chuckles and moves on without answering me.
And then I woke up.