Archive for the 'Time' Category


older, yes, but wiser?

I turn 47 tomorrow.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m none too excited about this. None of my previous birthdays have really bothered me — no problem turning 30, or 40, or even 45 for that matter, and I find myself in a happier place personally than I’ve been for any of those landmarks, so what’supwiththat?

As I’ve also mentioned before, 47 seems a lot closer to 50 than 46 did, so I don’t think that’s helping.

Why does this matter?

We’re all getting older, and it certainly beats the alternative, but are we all, no matter how sensible or philosophical, susceptible to the clichĂ©s of marking our progress professionally, personally, at the decade increments? What’s the difference really between turning 47 and turning 50? Maybe I should just continue as I have been, and get all the angst out of the way now — if I really don’t like turning 47, and admit that freely to myself, will that make it that much easier when I actually turn 50? Is that even it?

I know I imagined myself at 47 in a different place professionally than I find myself now, but that was true for 46, and 45, and 40, so so what?

I’m discouraged sometimes by life: my children sometimes seem to lack the characteristics of discipline, nobility, responsibility, thoughtfulness, which I had hoped to instill in them, (but they’re relatively young yet, so maybe it’s not hopeless); the professional world seems to be filled with people riddled by insecurity or pettiness or hubris; politics grind on as usual while many seem unable or unwilling to see the big picture and actual societal progress continues to be thwarted by selfish self-interest, religious narrow-mindedness, and/or apathy; students don’t really seem to care, even a fraction, as much as I do, or as much as I think they should. But do any of these things have anything to do with how I feel about how old I am?

It does seem to me that every single day is too short. So many things to do — delicious meals to cook and great wines to savor and books to read and projects to knit and friends to talk to and puppies to train and random crap to rant about on my blog and poems to write and movies to watch on the couch with my wonderful husband — and there never seems to be enough time to do them all. I guess I wouldn’t have it any other way: a full life is a life well-lived; but I want to pay attention to all of it while at the same time wishing I had time to take a nap.

And so it flies by.

Happy Birthday to me. 🙂


ommmm. . .

My husband bought this “Zen” alarm clock for me for my birthday:

It’s a beautiful clock — the bamboo matches our newly-installed floors, and the alarm is a gentle chime that wakes you gradually so that you’re not wrested, writhing and resentful, from your deep and restful sleep.

The way this works is that the hammer strikes the bell first ~ 10 minutes before the time for which your alarm has been set. Around 3 minutes later it chimes again, and then continues, at increasing intervals according to a reversal of  the Golden Mean (also known as the Fibonacci Series, constructed by adding the previous 2 numbers in the series 1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 etc.).

It actually works quite well. My concern at first was that the lack of insistence would make it unlikely that it would wake me at all. In fact, the first chime arouses me enough to realize that I will have to be getting up soon, and I adjust my dreams, and my expectations, accordingly. Yesterday morning I actually dreamt that the chimes continued, and that I had gotten up and turned the alarm off before the clock had actually chimed a second time. At that point I thought, well, as long as I’m awake. . . This morning it chimed once, I smiled and rolled over and hugged my pillow and then realized that I needed to use the “lav,” and got up before the second chime. My husband was curious, though, so I left the clock on so he could listen to it increase in frequency.

We then devised a series of “instructions,” as the clock would deliver if it could speak:

Chime 1: Good morning!

Chime 2: It’s going to be a beautiful day!

Chime 3: You might want to start thinking about getting up soon.

Chime 4: Hello? Is there anybody in there?

Chime 5: You know, you’re not doing anybody any favors just lying there like a lump.

Chime 6: If you don’t get your lazy a$& out of bed things are going to get really unpleasant.

Chime 7: ding   ding   ding  ding dingdingdingdingdingdingdngdngdng

We’ll see if I ever make it that far.


tick tock tick tock

When we’re children time seems endless — the day of school that won’t end, the 3-hour car trip that seems to take the entire day, the long long Sunday when we’re bored bored bored.

In our teens we “kill” time, like it’s the enemy.

When we’re in our 20s we spend it like it’s the spare change we find amid the lint in our pockets.

(I barely remember my 30s — I know, objectively, that “they” were ten years long, but it’s all just a blur, but “time” didn’t really seem to be something I thought about. . .yet. Haven’t quite tipped the scales, so to speak, since we figure we’ll live to at least 80, and we have more years left than we’ve lived.)

In our 40s we realize how little of it there really is, how fast it goes, and how it’s the one commodity we can’t borrow or negotiate.

In Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain the character Settembrini notes how, at a certain point in our lives, we look back, and past events seem chronologically both recent and distant, and speculates that this apparent dichotomy indicates a life well lived.

I try to let that be some kind of comfort to me as the years zip by.

There can’t possibly be enough time to read all the books I want to read and see all the movies I want to see and eat all the fantastic meals I want to eat and meet all the friends I want to meet.  I almost always wonder, when I’m doing something, if I “should” be doing something else.

Maybe I should have emotionally embraced my recent week-long bout of insomnia as a chance to “waste” less time sleeping.



I remember hating Sundays when I was a child. I think it was a combination of being bored out of my skull and dreading having to go back to school the next day. It really doesn’t make any sense if you think about it: I have absolutely nothing to do, but dread tomorrow, when I will have not only places to go and things to do, but people to see as well.

I don’t dread Sundays now; just the end of them. This was a very nice Sunday.

Started with me getting up to go play for my church job, but I’ll just skip over that part, although there was a really good chocolate chip cookie involved; talking about that would just make me sound like a child. This does actually remind me of something, though: the pastor, during the children’s sermon, was pointing out that different types of trees bear different types of fruit, and that our lives could reflect this in kind. He then asked of the children the infamous Barbra Wa-Wa question: “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?” An adorable, blond, curly-haired imp chirped “A candy tree!” We all laughed. I thought “a money tree” but instantly felt shame and remorse for being so shallow, and looked around wondering if anybody knew.

I then met my husband at the grocery store for our weekly shopping. Bought good food and wine, congratulated ourselves on good deals found, laughed about the fact that I stood stymied in front of the bananas for way too many minutes trying to find the perfect number of green and almost green and no longer green bunches to get us through the week without contributing too greatly to the frozen-bananas-for-smoothies supply in our freezer. (I’m also opposed to breaking a few off of a bunch, even though I know this is standard practice. I feel badly for those lone bananas, left forlorn on the bottom shelf, and sometimes wonder if I should give them a home like Charlie Brown and his tree.) My favorite moment was in the snack aisle, where I noticed our favorite brand of potato chip was on sale. I gawked and said regretfully that I shouldn’t buy them, but also pointed out to my husband that his favorite style (vinegar and sea salt) were also on sale, at which point a woman with dark curly hair and a scarf said “You know you want, to” and proceeded to dance two bags over into our cart. I then pointed out that they had a 40%-less-fat variety, and proceeded to read (alas, aloud) the back of the bag which painstakingly explained that these were not, as one might expect, an example of one the poor-relation cousins of the potato chip, a dehydrated-potato product “potato crisp,” and neither did they contain a not-to-be-found-in-nature fat substitute, but included only potatoes, canola oil, and salt. In the midst of this reading, the woman leaned over to my husband and asked, “Is she always like this?” I invited her to lunch, but she thought I was kidding, and off we went our separate ways.

We came home, put all of the food away into what had been a very empty refrigerator, ate leftover spinach-and-goat-cheese hamburgers and potato chips (yes, I we bought them), finished up yesterday’s unfinished the laundry and went for a walk. It was in the 50s today, the snow was practically falling over itself in its hurry to melt, the sun gleamed over our shoulders. There were two pairs of teenage boys on opposite sides of the road trying to throw snow slush balls at each other. We wondered, briefly, if the battle was in fun or in earnest, but before we got near the two on our side of the road got onto their bikes, crossed over, and joined the other two, and they all slouched off together.

Further along a small boy, his dad, and the boy’s little red wagon were parked along the path. The boy was casting, with all of his might, the small stones his dad handed to him over the split-rail fence and into the grass on the other side. As we neared, one cleared the verge and plopped into the river. The boy clutched the fence and jumped with both feet shouting “yay, yay”; and then turned to us and beamed with pride and joy.

My husband and I walked, holding hands; we must have looked happy because everyone we met smiled or waved or said hello. Or maybe they were happy. He mocked me once and I tried to push him into the “snowbank,” but he’s a hockey player, and trying to push a hockey player over is like trying to move an old rusty truck with its parking brake on. Thankfully he didn’t try to push me back. I’m a pianist, and think that taking off my shoes qualifies as exercise. You could probably push me over just by thinking about it.

When we got home g went to exercise (the walk was my “workout” and his “warmup.” See?) and I made gumbo.

[Has anyone ever met a stranger vegetable than okra? The first time I cooked with it, I had harvested it out of my garden — I liked to plant one unusual thing every year, and that year, for some reason, I had taken it into my head that okra would be an interesting crop. Anyway, its gluey transformation in the pan convinced me that it was “off,” that I had left it to grow for too long, or something, and dumped the whole dish unceremoniously into the trash.]

So we had gumbo and rice and a good white wine for dinner, and went to pick up my daughter while listening to our favorite Beatles tunes. I like Eleanor Rigby. G likes When I’m 64 but that’s just because he thinks he’s getting old and claims that it’s “just around the corner.” (Sure it is, if the corner is 13 years long.) We both laughed at the line “You’ll be older too.” As if she, I, needed reminding.

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