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Dream, dream dream dream, dree-ee-eam

I had the exam dream the other night.

You know the exam dream. You’re sitting to an exam, and realize that you haven’t studied, haven’t done the reading, haven’t been to class. It was a math class of some kind, and before I got the exam paper, I figured that I know some math, and maybe I could bullshit a bit and get a C- or a D+. I know this isn’t the usual emotional state for the exam dream, but I have to admit, with only a trifle of rue, that it was pretty much my emotional state for my actual exams in high school and college. I mean, I had generally been to class, and had often done the reading, but I didn’t study much in high school. Even in college, I didn’t study as much as anyone else. What I had learned, in my primary school years, was how to do well on exams without resorting to knowledge of the subject matter. That got me through high school, and while it didn’t work in college in so far as getting a C- or a D+ is working for that scheme, I found it worked well enough for me.

However, when (in my dream) I actually got a look at the exam, it turned out to be some sort of applied math—physics or something that required memorization of formulae and that sort of thing. In fact, the first problem involved figuring out the paths of cannonballs from their shadows on the ground during the rising part of the parabola; I could just about imagine how one would go about doing that but could not possibly have come up with an actual answer. And unlike the math tests on which I was able to bullshit a bit and get a C+, clearly the actual answer was what the grader would be looking for.

It was at this point in my dream that I said to myself Wait a minute—I didn’t go to any of the classes. What the hell am I taking the test for? And put the paper back down on the desk and made to get up and leave the classroom. That’s when I woke up.

I didn’t, in the dream, know that I was in the dream. I don’t know if I figured that I was just in the wrong room, taking the wrong test—if I hadn’t attended any of the classes, I clearly wasn’t enrolled in that class, and heck, it was applied math, so I clearly wouldn’t have signed up for it in the first place. Or maybe I just figured that if I had skipped all the classes, and clearly hadn’t learned the material, I wasn’t going get a passing grade anyway, so why waste my time taking the test? All I remember is my holding the test, making some sort of connection, and thinking what the hell and heading out.

Except, as I say, that’s when I woke up. And it took me a long, long time to go back to sleep. It’s the first time I’ve ever had the exam dream that I remember. And I did it wrong.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


In fact, the first problem involved figuring out the paths of cannonballs from their shadows on the ground during the rising part of the parabola

Oh, this is really cool! So you can get the horizontal position from where the shadow is, obviously, but you have to take the sun into account, and you can get the vertical position from the size of the shadow, but you also have to take the sun into account for that. I'm not sure if you have to know the angle and location of the sun to do the problem, or if it can be derived from the data, but it seems like a very interesting—

Oh, sorry. That wasn't the point of this post? Sigh.

I love the dreams where you actually have some control over your dream, though. They're just the coolest. Almost as cool as that problem with the cannonballs.... (;

Yeah, I think that in the dream, I thought it was a pretty good problem for putting together stuff that sort of class would do. I don't know if that's actually true, but in the dream it was.


I have had my dream about driving a car that won't stop because the brake pedal is all spongey, enough times that I am thoroughly exasperated with it, and simply refuse to participate. Either the car stops or the dream does. My subconscious has adapted itself to this fact, and sometimes puts me in brake-pedal-free speeding vehicles, but still.

Also, if you close the link tag at the end of your next post, you might get more responses to it. :-)

Thanks for the tip! Also: I have had the car dream often; sometimes it's the brakes and sometimes it's the steering wheel. I've never hit anything in the dream, though.


Interesting parallels with what I refer to as my Last Test-Anxiety Dream—see the final two paragraphs of that linked-to entry.

Wow, I must have read that note, and it's even possible you told me about the dream at some point before that, but I did not (consciously) remember that at all. Maybe it was in the back of my mind, and when I finally did have an exam dream, I followed your lead without knowing it…


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