The other day I found myself discussing “The Tell Tale Heart” with my eighth grade (student teaching) class. I was hitting on A LOT of great points, and the feedback from the class was quiet, but thoughtful.

Oh wait, there was no feedback because it was the middle of the night, there were no kids, and I was standing on the opposite side of the room addressing a body pillow.

So that happened.

And then it happened again the next night.

And then every night after that for two weeks. I would wake up every 40 minutes, because that’s how long our classes last, and talk about whatever we were supposed to be learning the next day.

Without going into too much intimate detail (sorry, Grandmas) I would go to bed, wake up in the middle of one of these dreams and actually say to myself, “I can’t believe I showed up to class without wearing a shirt again.” I had that thought almost every night, and every morning I woke up wearing something completely random that only existed in the deep bowels of my dresser. Fourth of July shirt from two years ago? Why not.

Two weeks into student teaching and I’m having the same dream every night.

As time went on, I would wake up and say to myself, “I don’t understand why these kids have to come to class in the middle of the night.” So I knew it was night somewhere in my brain! Why the fuck would kids go to school at 3 o’clock in the morning? I would check my phone every 40 minutes after I woke up, and for some stupid reason it made sense that the next batch of students were coming in and we had to talk about literary terms or short stories.

One night, before I had a scheduled observation, I woke up standing in front of our window talking about multiple intelligences. I was standing there talking to a student about The Nutcracker and how the audience was able to understand the story without ever hearing any dialogue. I knew the student was a dancer, so this example would be perfect for him and he understood it right away. To clarify, the “he” in this situation was the window.

God damnit, I actually thought of something really good while I was sleeping.

My body, my brain, whatever part that was wreaking havoc on me was not slowing down. A week or two after I started student teaching I also started a part time job at Old Navy. Working at Old Navy meant a whole new set of dreams; when I wasn’t waking up to teach lessons, I was waking up folding clothes at a register. I sometimes keep clothes on the side of my room, which became perfect items to stash away in imaginary shopping bags. One night I came to saying, “You got a really great deal on this sweater.” Jesus.

You really haven’t experienced sleep walking until you’ve tried to fold up your comforter and place it into an imaginary shopping bag.

Let me correct that actually, you haven’t lived until you’ve tried to fold up your comforter and then said aloud, “How do they expect me to work this register when it’s so dark in here?” Oh you mean, it’s so dark because it’s 2:30 AM and you’re not at work? I have no idea.

To remedy this situation I tried taking a full valium pill, because I had cut it down to half when I started waking up at 5:30 AM for work. When that didn’t work, I tried going go to sleep wearing a full set of clothes so that I wouldn’t worry about being naked at school. That worked for a night, but I was back to the teaching dreams and would say things out loud like, “I’m going to go back to sleep and let the next teacher take over this class.”

Not only is that a crappy teaching practice, but the only other teacher in the room was my body pillow and I don’t think he was into it.

The next option was a lonely one, the sleeping bag. In Sleep Walk With Me Mike Birbiglia uses a sleeping bag at night to keep him from walking around the room, and it felt like our last real option. So sometime last week I bit the bullet and climbed into the bag to get through the night. To my pure astonishment, it has worked all but one night and has kept me from lecturing the class from all sides of the room.

photo-7

Perhaps more than anything, the sleeping bag has created a physical roadblock for me to get out of bed. I have woken up once or twice sitting up and talking in bed, but I really do believe it’s kept me from walking around because that thing is a bitch to get out of. Even in the morning, when I’m supposed to be getting out of bed, I’m fighting the god damn zipper to set me free.

I know it’s stress, I know that when things calm down it’ll eventually go away, but for now I’m relegated to the good ol’ Coleman sleeping bag.

So if you happen to hear me say something like, “I could barely make it out of my bag this morning” it wasn’t because I was drunk, I just literally couldn’t get myself out of my sleeping bag.

But, we’ve all been there right?