Items tagged “time&rdquo
maura @ 6:07 pm
As I write this we are finishing up the second of our 2 summer vacations this year. We’ve been to Scotland, which was incredible, and also spent some time visiting family in northern New England.
I am sitting on the front porch (vacation #2) thinking about time. And I realize I have spent lots of my sabbatical thinking about time, specifically the ways in which sabbatical time differs from regular work schedule time. Vacation time is different too.
My friend Emily writes about kairos and library work, often teaching. As Emily puts it, kairos is “time married to action and context,” or qualitative time, as opposed to chronos which is regular clock time, schedules and appointments and hourlong chunks in the online calendar. Sabbatical has been mostly about kairos I think, chronos has faded a bit into the background. Qualitative time also makes sense to me in my own research context, I think a lot about what and where and how people do things with the tools and in the locations and times available to them. So it is not surprising that I would think about my own qualitative time during my own sabbatical context. (Tho yes, navel gazing.)
I have done a lot of reading on sabbatical, mostly fiction but a fair amount of nonfiction too. Reading has always messed with time for me: time slows to a crawl if I’m reading something dull or difficult, or flies by when a book is so engaging that I can’t put it down. It feels like a luxurious use of time to spend a whole day reading, which I’ve done on a few occasions during sabbatical. Sitting on this front porch I read “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang (and the rest of the stories in that collection as well). That’s the story that the movie “Arrival” was based on, a movie I loved though it made me so very sad. (the teen: “why do you [and dad] always cry at movies?” me: “because parenthood makes ya sappy, kid.”) The source material does not disappoint, and I found myself going back to it a few times as I was finishing up the other stories in the volume.
Sabbatical feels like heptapod B time a little bit. I kind of had the whole thing planned out, and mostly it’s unfolded the way I expected. Deviations weren’t too awful, even the ones that were more negative than positive. There was a big structure but I felt sort of floaty in between. Scotland was like that too: we had an itinerary and moved between things to do, but there was some squishiness too. Family visiting is less structured more squishy.
My sabbatical ends in 12 days. Our drive home from visiting takes 6 hours. The commute to work when everything on the subway is working well takes 20 minutes. My walk home takes 40 minutes. The semester starts (almost) 3 weeks after I’m back. My commute to the NYPL to the study room I’ve been using during sabbatical takes 50 minutes.
Now I’m not on the front porch anymore. Now my sabbatical ends sooner than it did when I started this post. Do the number of items on the list of things I’d like to get done before sabbatical ends subdivide and fit neatly into the time remaining? Will I go back to my one hour of research each morning before heading into the library?
I am not ready to go back.
I am ready to go back.
These things are both, at the same time, true.
maura @ 5:26 pm
Last Friday I went to a conference in Manhattan and had what can only be described as an epicly cruddy commute into the city. I left in (what I thought was) plenty of time to make it to the keynote speaker and walked the 7 minutes or so to the subway station. And then I waited, and waited, and waited, the platform getting more crowded as time progressed. After I’d been in the station for about 20 minutes a train finally pulled in, and of course it was much too crowded for anyone new to get on. I waited some more, maybe 5 minutes or so, and was just about to leave the station when another train pulled in, similarly crowded. So I walked upstairs and out to the street and 2 blocks up the hill to the other subway station. Paid my fare (again!) and got on a train (thankfully of standard rush hour person-density) that arrived a couple of minutes after I got there. Of course that train was the wrong train for that line, temporarily rerouted because of a sick passenger or somesuch. Three stops later an announcement came on that the train was switching back to its original line, so I had to get off and switch trains again. I waited a normal amount of time for the next train which then proceeded to move slooooooowly (“please be patient”) through the next several stops, before finally getting up to normal speed once we were in Manhattan. I had to switch trains (planned, this time) one last time before I got off at my stop and walked the 10 minutes over to the conference.
Total commute time = nearly 2 hrs for something that should have taken me 1 hour at the most.
While alternately moving through the various stages of transit-related frustration or reading on my phone (thank you, Instapaper) during my trip, I also started thinking about the relationship between travel and time. Time while traveling (by non-self-powered means) is different than time otherwise. The MTA bends time, forces it to collapse or expand, making you so far yet so close, or so close yet so far. At one point on Friday I’d spent 50 minutes and 2 subway fares to get to a station that’s a 30 minute walk from my house.
What makes me grumpiest about transit delays is that it always seems like they happen on the one day when I need to go somewhere by a specific time. But of course having somewhere to be is a prerequisite for a delay; it wouldn’t be a delay in any real sense of the word if it were optional, a part of standard or normal life.
Car delays (= traffic) are numbing, probably because I hate car travel and feel guilty whenever we drive anywhere. But with a subway delay my brain goes into calculation overload, like the alterna-Astrid on Fringe. Should I change to another line? Which would be fastest? Of course the system is rigged against me because I don’t have access to all of the data points at once. What if I change to another line and that line has delays? Will the walk through the station to switch trains be faster than just sitting here waiting for this train I’m on to finally move? Those sunk costs can be difficult to overcome.
Ultimately it’s all about splitting timelines. What happened to that version of me at the original station, the one who waited for a train to come that wasn’t overfull. Where is she now? And did she get to the conference in time to hear the keynote speaker?
maura @ 9:08 pm
Okay, the train was kind of a bust on the way home last weekend: we had some mechanical problems, were stuck in Philly for 90 minutes, and ended up having to transfer to another train for the rest of the trip. It was kind of comical actually: on the first train I was in the quiet car and had no seat neighbor, which was brilliant, while on the second train I was on a crowded noisy car. Oh well, them’s the breaks.
I discovered on last weekend’s trip that Amor de Dias is the most perfect train music ever. It’s Lupe from Pipas (a band I lovelovelove) and Alasdair from The Clientele (a band I’m kind of meh about). They are poptastic: quiet and dreamy and just perfect for watching the scenery slip by and relaxing your brain and feeling a little sad about Baltimore but also a little happy about the little bit of snow and the waning afternoon light. Go to their website and listen to Late Mornings right now! (Esp. the ‘oooohs’ that start around 0:57 — so dreamy.)
Today is the first day of the semester. It’s been a long month full of deadlines and much, much busier than a January *should* be, I think. Of course there are always deadlines but I think the busiest bit is past, which seems funny to say on the first day of the semester. But I’m optimistic, and thinking of that train ride makes me evermoreso.
maura @ 11:05 pm
It struck me tonight, as I listened to the album “Gentlemen Take Polaroids” by Japan while doing the dishes, that Air is very similar to Japan in many ways, despite being many decades apart in time. Both are synthy, ethereal, sort of quiet (except when they’re not). I listen to a lot of Air while I’m working, both in-my-office-at-the-library sorts of work as well as writing work at home or in the library. I’d listen to more Japan than I do, but their other records are caught in the amber of old media, some on cassette and the rest on vinyl.
I’ve complained many times about the labor of digitizing old music. Even with the USB turntable the process is, frankly, a pain in the ass and takes forever, so I haven’t digitized much. Really that task has over the past couple of years transformed from “something I’ll chip away at on the weekends and in my spare time” into “something to do if I’m ever on bed rest for some reason.”* What I really need is a clever monkey or gnome to do it for me. It has crossed my mind to pay Gus to do it, too.
*(Along with putting the actual photos in actual albums with little adhesive corners. When I told a friend that I’d bought those photo albums with adhesive corners–about 8 years ago now–he was like “just get rid of them now, you will never use them, it’s too much work!” And he was so, so right.)
But it’s a shame, because I miss their other records. I’ve got a pile of stuff to do tomorrow on the holiday, but maybe I should take some time out for digitizing. Just to prove those naysayers (including myself) wrong.
maura @ 11:03 pm
Seriously, what do I have to do to get some more time in the day? Who can I bribe to make sleep unnecessary? I’m working on lots of super interesting things right now, but I may be just a tiny bit overscheduled. A smidge, perhaps. And my child, despite apparently being overly fond of negative numbers, has not yet built me a time machine. Which I feel is kind of a rip-off, actually. I mean, what is the good of having those small, agile hands and that boundless energy if not to build me a time machine?