Tag Archives: time

Nine to Thirty-six

Yesterday as I drove home with Miss Diva we passed Audubon Park. I drive past it if not daily, than several times a week. Miss Diva was having a blond moment and didn’t realize it was a park until I pointed it out. She asked why we don’t go there. It’s close to us and quite pretty, but they lack proper restrooms or water fountains, and while not as much an issue now, their playground was kind of crappy. We’ve been there, but I much prefer other local parks.

My mother loved Audubon, likely because they have some gorgeous trees. We lived a good thirty minute drive or more from that particular park when I was little. The last trip to that park before we left Memphis was probably the in early fall of 1988. I loved trees too, but I was a bit disappointed when we made a trek to that one in particular. Back then there wasn’t a playground at all and swings and slides rank high on kid priorities. Still, we had fun. I think we had a take-out picnic and played frisbee.

I was hipster before it was cool.

I wore hipster glasses before it was cool.

I lived in Memphis for nine years before moving away and didn’t return until I was 18. Memphis was my home and at the age of nine I made the decision to return as soon as I could. I was just a little older when I decided to be a scientist and a writer and the president of the United States. I may have only been 9, but my record for achieving those goals is currently 3 out of 4.

Despite my nine-year old resolution, when I returned, it was just as much a strange place in many ways as other places I’ve lived. My connection to Memphis is now essentially the eighteen years I’ve spent here as an adult. Sure, I remember playing frisbee there, but far more clear are memories of taking Mr. Smarty-pants there when he was itty-bitty, walking with all the kids there and playing troll under the bridge.

Every once in a while though, my brain time-warps and I’m 6, or 7, or 8 again, running through leaves, giddy with the simple joy of freedom that running at that age brought. It was before asthma and chronic allergies stole all the fun. It was before I reached an age where I was self conscious. It was before I went through five long, painful years of bullying and isolation at school. It was long before grief and heartaches and the tedium of adulthood.

Chatting with Miss Diva about the park, I realized how integral our memories are. Our past may not define us, but it shapes us. I read a book recently in which the characters’ memories are wiped and then they regain them. While I enjoyed the story, something felt off and I realized the change in one of the main characters seemed too subtle to me. I can’t even list the number of ways different events have helped make me who I am today. I look back at pre-9 year old me and have no idea who I’d be if you erased all I experienced, but it wold not be who I am now.

Sixteen years ago today, I didn’t know it yet, but my brother had been taken from this world. Growing up with Justin influenced me, just as losing him changed me. Even knowing the pain of his loss, were I given the choice, I’d go back and do it all again just to hear his laugh one more time or hear his voice again.

Having hit 36, a number of people I know are saying goodbye to parents and other family members or friends. I know there isn’t really anything I can say or do to make it better. I offer my sympathy as that’s all one can do. Nothing ever makes it better. Not really. You move on. It becomes a part of you. So, for all of those dealing with loss, new or old, you are not alone.

Back to regularly random posts!

The nightmare of qualifiers past is over. The ghost of oral exams has not yet arrived and dissertation defense is not even a worry yet.

Before we skip ahead to the “Merry Christmas and God bless us one and all!” let me share the recent shenanigans of Mr. Smarty-pants.

He thinks he’s sly and clever. Eventually he’ll get the message that he isn’t that clever.

Mr. Smarty-Pants did not want to go to school. Maybe he forgot an assignment. Maybe his ears did hurt a bit as he claimed, but seeing as how he spent all evening outside while said ears were allegedly hurting, clearly he was not the sick, pathetic child he attempted to feign. I expressed about half a second of sympathy, gave him a decongestant, and told him to get his butt dressed.

When it came time to leave, my keys were MIA. Last night, after a trip to the grocery store, I set them in plain view on the kitchen table so there would be no key hunt in the morning. I made a mental note and everything.

mental noteNeedless to say when my mental post-it appeared to lie, as no keys were on the table and we were already behind schedule, I got slightly pissed. Mr. Smarty-Pants was the only one who mentioned seeing my keys. He claimed he saw them on the table last night before dinner. Before dinner? I thought he must have mistaken the time, as he fell asleep early and I went to the grocery store. Mr. Smarty-Pants started looking around with me. I looked in all the usual places, and ten minutes later still could not find the keys. At this point I was about one small disaster short of strangling someone.

As I stood in the kitchen, a little mental prodding of my subconscious told me to check the bookshelf. I NEVER, EVER put my keys on the bookshelf. There’s too much crap on there and it isn’t a logical place in my opinion. Still, I followed the instinct, lifting papers and pictures and odds and ends. Mr. Smarty-Pants joined me, rummaging, rather lamely, through the picture albums.

“Nothing back here,” he said.

The picture albums? Really? How on earth would they get back there? I could envision someone moving a stack of papers off the table with my keys and dumping them on the shelf. The picture albums didn’t fit into any accidental scenario I could imagine. Soup King and I heard a little clink.

“That sounded like keys.”

“Yeah. Maybe.” It could have been the metal flashlight knocking against something, but then again…. Mr. Smarty-Pant’s behavior seemed more and more suspicious.

I stuck my hand right behind the picture albums, the ones Mr. Smarty-Pants had been messing with. My hands closed around my keys.

I said nothing beyond announcing I’d found them and then corralled all three kids out the door. Mr Smarty-Pants was nearly half an hour late to school, but with my suspicions, he most definitely was NOT going to stay home.

Once in the car I started it up and then looked at Mr. Smarty-Pants. “I’m not stupid. You pull a stunt like that again and you’re grounded for a month.”

Silence.

He didn’t even bother attempting to deny it.

When I informed him he was grounded for the day (would have turned into a week had his sisters been late), he simply agreed with a grim expression.

Miss Diva chimed in. “What happened?” What did he do?”

I explained and the looks of shock on the girls’ faces cleared them of any culpability, although, I did not suspect them of collusion.

The kid has gumption. I’ll give him that, but sooner or later I catch him in all his little stunts.

NaNo Not

October flew right by. It left in quite a whirl. Really, the wind yesterday threatened to catch up my umbrella and whisk me off to a magical land. I’m a tiny bit sad that it didn’t. I always wanted to melt a wicked witch or talk with a magical lion.

Thankfully, the wind also blew away the rain so that by evening we could go raid houses for candy, err… Trick-or-Treat.  So we set out the Jack-o-lanterns…

Ha! Go home pumpkin. You're drunk.

Ha! Go home pumpkin. You’re drunk.

and took my undead minions candy raiding.

1391898_10151978268767165_535639201_n

Mr. Smarty-Pants opted to play Call of Duty rather than acquire candy, although he went out with a friend earlier in the evening and pretended he was Justin Bieber, so I suppose he got his dose of Trick-or-Treating.

So now that all the ghoulish fun is over, it’s November, which means half of my friends are participating in NaNoWriMo. I attempted that last year. I got maybe twenty thousand words written before I lost interest. There’s something about giving me an arbitrary deadline that makes my Muse fall asleep or drift off to other activities. This year, I have my doctoral qualifying exams scheduled for the second week in December. Needless to say, studying for nail-biting, brain-draining exams will occupy a fair amount of my time this month.

Even if I were not otherwise occupied, I’m more a slow and steady tortoise than a speedy hare racing for a finish line. I keep plugging away when I can at my current projects, which so far has worked well for me.

Good luck to all of those participating in NaNoWriMo. I shall NaNo Not.

Rise and… zzzzzzzzzzz

Once upon a time it was summer. I slept in until the lovely time of 7:30am without the hustle and bustle of herding children out the door. Then the fairy tale ended and the evil torture that is the school year began.

Four days into the new year and I overslept. Oops. I’m still adjusting to the earlier school hours and unlike when I was a spry fifteen, I can’t get by with four hours of sleep. In fact, anything less than seven and you might have to hire a building crane to remove me from bed.

The minion horde appears to share that trait. Even Marble cracked open one eye and glared at me the other day for waking her before the sun was up. When your dog says you’re up too damn early, it’s hard to disagree.

I haven’t worked out once since school began, as I’ve been too tired. I feel that this is solid evidence that waking before dawn is bad for your health.

I read a post on Facebook that claimed a week of camping would reset one’s circadian rhythm, which gets out of sync from the use of artificial lights. I woke just after sunrise this morning, so clearly I’m in sync just fine. I think we should send the people who decide school times on a camping trip, don’t you? Maybe all of corporate America should get shipped to islands in the middle of nowhere for a week, or at least to Mexico long enough to adopt siestas. 

If you’re going to make me get up before the sun, at least schedule a nap.

 

Time machine

Ever hear of the story where an old woman, a witch of some sort, hands a boy a magical spool of yarn? If he tugs on it, he can speed through the “boring” parts of life. At the end of the story he realizes it’s all those boring little bits he sped through which defined life. He’s lived without really experiencing much of anything. “The Magic Thread” is a French fairy tale with a cautionary message of what is important in life. There are days, like today, where I wish I had a magic time machine that did just the opposite.

There are moments in life, often just seconds, where you acutely feel the passage of time. Caught up in the day to day, once you leave childhood behind it seems to fly faster and faster. I try to savor the little things in life, to appreciate the snuggles and even the stuff strewn across my living room floor. I know there will come a time when I’ll have a neat  and quiet house, no one will interrupt my attempts to sleep in on Saturday, and I won’t have to hide the cookies to keep little hands from filching them before dinner.  Most days I do not look forward to that. Oh, sure, it would be nice to walk through a house without tripping over a random pair of shoes or a stuffed animal, but those little things are worth enjoying the now.

My eldest started middle school today. As his aunt noted, he is still, in a very sweet way, a bit of a clingy child at times. When this involved him literally begging me to hold him every five minutes until he hit two to three years old, it drove me nuts some days. Now, I find that lingering echo of his toddler years bittersweet.  He wanted me to walk him in as I have done every year on the first day of school. Alas, the school would not let me; too many people to let the parents go in with them. Last year he feigned the oh so grown up air, but the grin on his face when I stopped by his room for a quick, “Got every thing? You good?”, followed by a hug belied his attempt at being “grown up”.

No doubt today he saw some of the eighth-grade boys which dwarfed me and didn’t feel quite so grown-up anymore. I remember that feeling. Unlike him, due to the transportation arrangements when I was a kid, I never once walked into school on the first day holding my mom or dad’s hand. My mom did walk with us to school the year my sister started kindergarten, but I was in fourth grade that year and  big enough to find my classroom without assistance. Still, I  recall the jitters and the worry of what to expect. I got through every year, so I know he’ll be fine, but in that moment where he glanced at me for reassurance time stretched like a rubber band. He was a baby and then a toddler, and then starting kindergarten, and now off to middle school.

It seems like just a few days ago I was trying to get him to give up his binky and scrubbing Sharpie off of his face. Now I’m handing him a spare set of keys to the house. In five years it will be car keys. In seven years he’ll be heading for college. I know better than to want to freeze time, but oh to slow it down a bit now and then. Besides, I could totally use it to get in some extra sleep.

I’m not ready yet!

Once upon a time, a long time ago, there was a mom who started graduate school– WAIT! It wasn’t that long ago! I swear! At least, not the second start!

I’m about to join the ranks of the department’s senior students. Most of the students that were the senior students when I arrived are gone or about to leave, aside from the Pharm D./Ph.D. student who’s been here for nearing seven years. Of course, he’s got a pharmacy degree already and the Ph.D. will be icing on the cake. I think only the fact that he’s come this far prevents him from saying to hell with the icing.

Aside from the handful of post-docs and the professors, of course, he’s the only student now from whom I can seek advice. Sadly, that means absolutely nothing has changed in the two and a half years I’ve been here.  I could complain about how unhelpful the other students in the department were, but I think I understand how they felt.

If I answer your question wrong, it will only validate my lack of confidence.

Now I’m the one people are coming to for advice. I feel like there should have been a flag and maybe even little fireworks. My princess better be in this darn castle too!

I don't get fireworks? Maybe Princess Peach should rescue herself!

Unfortunately, much like adulthood, there isn’t a magic number where you are automatically grown and mature. One day you’re a kid and the next you look up and go, “WTF?!” wishing you could trade your stack of bills for Legos and crayons. While not quite as shocking, I’ve somehow morphed from mostly clueless to walking people through processes I learned by doing them the wrong way a gazillion different times before figuring out how to do it properly.

I get asked by faculty, students, and other people what I wish to do once I graduate. My reply is generally that I’m leaving my options open since the economy is so shaky. I’m beginning to wonder if I should find a job that includes at least some teaching. I loathe bad teachers, and I genuinely like helping people understand. I suppose if I don’t kill anyone for asking moronic questions in the next couple of years, I might decide to teach.

One giant leap

I must admit that the people who devised daylight savings time were ingenious. Who doesn’t enjoy having time for playing outside in the summer? Well, here in the south, once the temperatures reach a degree past roasting, I suppose indoor activities are preferred. In direct contrast to my enjoyment of summer evenings, my fall mornings when the time has yet to change back become an increasing trial to drag my non-morning self out of bed.

Back in 2005 congress, in their infinite wisdom, passed legislature to extend DST for energy conservation purposes from the end of October to the first weekend in November. This year that means the time doesn’t change until the 6th. Every neuron in my brain protests this act. When my alarm goes off before the sun rises my brain insists that the phone is experiencing a malfunction.

I admit to a love affair with sleep, and not keen on getting up no matter the time of year, but this is probably due to running at a sleep deficit for a great many years. My body wants its eight hours and doesn’t appreciate me not obliging on a regular basis. So, in that regard that whole cheating me out of an hour’s sleep in the spring does not help matters. Does giving it back in the fall really matter after making me wake up for a couple of weeks before the sun has even meandered over the horizon?

Well, zombies are all the rage right now.

SLEEEEEP...

I suppose should a zombie apocalypse arrive I’ll survive for at least a bit. With circles under my eyes, vacant expression, and shambling walk the zombies won’t be able to tell the difference.