Monthly Archives: April 2012

‘Bout to explode

This is the last piece in our series on sleep. Juan writes about sleeplessness, stress, poverty, and work. 

‘Bout to explode: a day in the life of a precarious worker
by Juan Conatz

“Damn it, where’s this pinche thing?”

Sometimes when I get real frustrated, a few Spanish curse words enter my vocabulary. My mom would probably be both amused and disappointed.

“Jesus Christ, there ain’t nowhere in here for anything to get lost!”

It’s 4:30 AM, and I’m frantically looking for both my house keys and bus pass. It was another all-nighter. I’ve been up for almost 2 days now. Continue reading

Who Dismisses the Teacher

Our series on sleep and dreams continues with a post about stress and lack of sleep in the education industry. 

Who Dismisses the Teacher: On The Work that Follows You Home and Steals your Sleep
by Barbanegra

I stare up at the computer’s clock on the right hand side of the screen, the numbers blaring at me, “10:45 pm.” I’ve finished the PowerPoint presentation for one class, but have nothing prepared for my other class. Luckily for me, tomorrow I have a planning period between 2nd period and 6th period (where I teach we have 90 min block classes, 4 blocks a day), so I can use that time to put something together for the class I wasn’t able to plan for the night before. The “even days” afford me such a luxury, the “odd days” don’t. On the “odd days”, my reaction to this nightly routine is much more irate. Immediately the panic and anxiety sets in. I feel a pain in the side of my stomach, sometimes accompanied by nausea. My girlfriend asks me from the couch if I’m calling it a night, to which I respond with an annoyed, “No!” followed by grumbles about how I’m probably only going to get 3 or 4 hours of sleep that night. Continue reading


Our series on sleep continues with a piece by Gayge discussing divisions and oppression within the working class.

by Gayge Operaista

I wake up with a start, and do my usual “where the hell am I?” look around. When you’ve been couch and guest room surfing for months, because you moved back across the country and still haven’t found steady work, it’s a reasonable “why am I awake?” question, especially when there’s no urgency to get up out of bed. Continue reading

Let me sleep on it

Our series on work, sleep and dreams continues with a story about a sleepwalking postal worker.

Let me sleep on it
By Phinneas Gage

I woke up and rubbed my eyes, Saturday was a long time coming this week. My aching body stumbled towards the fridge. I swung the door open and my eyes focused on the first clear object of the morning, a bottle of Catsup. I grabbed the bottle and stood up, straightening my aching back. I opened the freezer and my eyes focused again on a frozen bag of breakfast sausage. Continue reading

Alarm Clock

Our series on work, sleep, and dreams continues with a story by our friend Invisible Man, about race, stress, and family.

Alarm Clock
by Invisible Man

The belt sander was screeching. The high whine tore through his eardrums. It began to drown out the clatter of the polishing drum and the pulsating whirr of the milling machines. Time to replace the sandpaper. Continue reading

Good Morning Sweetheart

This post continues our series on work and sleep with a post about stress and dreams in the education industry.

Good Morning Sweetheart
By Nate Hawthorne

I’m just… furious. Like so angry I’m sputtering and stuttering, as in “I – I – how could you – why would you ever think that … I just – you need to knock it off!” I’m standing in front of a room full of my students, and I’m spitting out these chunks of sentences and I’m doing it loud. I’m full-on shouting. I’ve definitely lost my composure. I’m yelling at them because they’ve been sleeping in class, and they’ve been turning in their homework late and doing it really poorly, and that makes my workload even higher because late work means more stuff I need to keep track of, and poorly written assignments take a lot longer to grade. And class size went up ten percent this year so I’ve got more students than last year’s maximum. So part of what I’m really shouting at them about is the fact that I can’t handle the workload. Continue reading

Even My Dreams These Days Have Work-Related Scenes


More from our series on work, sleep and dreams. This one features Lou Rinaldi describing a nightmare and how it’s his subconscious taking the very real alienation he feels at work and running with it.

Even My Dreams These Days Have Work-Related Scenes
by Lou Rinaldi


I’m stuck there in a chair in my kitchen. It’s like I can’t move, I guess I really can’t explain it, but I’m looking up at the clock (wait, I don’t have a clock!) and the time changes nearly every minute to something completely different. I’m starting to feel nauseous and disoriented. And then – there it is! The right minute. I’m allowed to go now. I can get up and I leave my apartment and hop onto the bus. It’s strange to me because I don’t remember the bus going right to my apartment before. Oh well, I don’t really have think of how absurd this is because of the overwhelming feeling of dread and nervousness I have looming over me. You see, I’m three hours late for work! Continue reading

Reflections on Dream Baking and Sleep Deprivation

The series on work, sleep, and dreams continues with this account of working without much sleep and the dreams associated with this.

Reflections on Dream Baking and Sleep Deprivation
by besherelle et la lutte

It is raining out side, but not too hard that I can’t ride my bike. I turn away from the front door and walk towards my room to find my rain gear. Of course this extra 5 minutes of getting all these extra layers on, means I will be 5 minutes late for work. I am tired, I have a sleep headache and the idea of being late for work, makes it worse. This always happens when the middle of the week comes around. Getting more than 4 or 5 hours a night’s sleep isn’t feasible working these early hours. There is a tension that exists when you work early, a fear of sleeping in, or not opening the store on time. It turns into a resentment, an anger that sleeps inside of you. These feelings are present and accessible at all times and they are created out of fear and powerlessness. You are vulnerable and disposable and any day now, this reality will be confirmed. It’s dark outside and I fumble around trying to find the buttons on my bike lights, both are blinking and I carry my bike down the stairs to the street. Continue reading

Work Dreams

Scott Nappalos writes about the problems of working in a hospital and how conditions seep into his dreams.

Work Dreams
by Scott Nappalos

Within a few months of being on my own, the dreams started. I won’t say nightmares, because nightmares have a distinct sense of terror and harm; my dreams weren’t always like that. I was working as a nurse on an medical-surgical floor for oncology patients in a major urban hospital. Just out of school, I managed to fall into one of the most hostile units in one of the worst hospitals in Miami. Continue reading

Off the Clock

Jen Rogue writes about how our work life infiltrates itself into our dreams and technically amounts to unpaid labor.

Off the Clock
by Jen Rogue

“…. Peaches …. 4401 …. Lemons …. 4033 …. Carrots …. 4560 ….”

A blaring alarm clock interupts my restless slumber. Damn it! Time to go to work. And do what I’ve been doing in my sleep for the last few hours, unpaid. In the shower, I wonder about how much space in my brain are taken up by produce codes. Are bananas (4011) edging out my memory of the first time I rode a bicycle? I can’t even remember the last time I ate a clementine but 4450 might as well be tattooed on the insides of my eyelids. I chug coffee and try not to think about how awful it is to wake up feeling like you already put in your eight hours only to realize they haven’t even begun. Continue reading