Friday, March 19, 2010

Time keeps on slippin’

There was an extended period during college wherein I adopted a couple of standard self-serving answers to imponderable questions. College, of course, is a curious transitional phase in the life of privileged kids and often combines a nearly mindless sowing of wild oats with more horizon-broadening experiences that challenge the intellect and encourage its growth. For the most part this is all to the good, but it does lead to a lot of pseudo-deep philosophizing. And I have always preferred having a snappy answer at the ready to silent chin-stroking. So, for example, if someone would pose a question about how something seemingly impossible or inexplicable could have come to pass, I would nod knowingly and say, “Great circles!” Referring of course to the practice of flying airplanes along the shortest distance over a globe’s surface, even though the path looks unnecessarily circuitous when pictured against a flat-projection map. It doesn’t really answer any other question about anything besides aeronavigation, but as a pat answer it has a couple of things going for it:

1. It’s made up of two words that convey simple but expansive concepts that could theoretically apply to almost anything, and also taps into that “wheel in the sky” quasi-mystical-metaphysical zone.

2. To be fair, I really was most likely to bust out “Great circles!” as an answer to shut someone up when they really deserved shutting up, when they posed a koan not so much because they were generally curious about the answer but because the flashing-neon subtext was “Look at how precocious I am for posing questions that don’t have easy answers!” My response-signal was “Yeah but here’s an answer that’s both easy and dismissive, so shut up and let’s all move on.”

I mentioned a couple of answers, but the other one tended to be employed mostly when I was trying to defend my own indefensible behavior (a circumstance which arose with disturbing frequency in college). If someone asked me why I was running late or why I had blown off plans or generally failed to live up to a promise or commitment, I would more often than not blame “Spring forward, fall back,” with a sad shake of my head. It mattered very little how long it had been since the last time we changed the clocks in our timezone; in fact I was more likely to say it the more non sequitor it was, because the whole point was to change the subject via absurdity and deflect any incoming (and rightly deserved, usually) wrath. Thank goodness I didn’t go to college at University of Indiana or some other non-DST-observing place.

(So why didn’t I blog yesterday? You’re damn right I’m blaming that lost hour of sleep.)

Did somebody say non sequitor?
Daylight Savings Time generally gets less blame for playing havoc with my life these days, but I might actually be feeling its effects more now. My post-work, post-daycare-pickup routine has gotten slightly more complicated, for example. It used to be fairly easy to get the little guy from the car in the driveway through the front door of the house when it was cold and dark upon arrival; now he sees how sunny and nice it is and just wants to play in the front yard. His bedtime has been creeping later and later as well, and even so there’s been more daylight visible at the edges of his bedroom window than there used to be. Technically I suppose it’s more gloaming than daylight, but then again, this is only March; by May or June 7:30 p.m. will be well-lit enough to count as late afternoon, and I shudder to think how that will affect his willingness to be put down in the crib. In the old house we had some pretty heavy light-blocking curtains on his bedroom windows, but the new house came with shades that are basically translucent rice paper. I foresee some drapery acquisition in the future.

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