My aunt who works in the nursing industry once explained to me the curse of being scheduled for a night shift on the last Saturday in October. While people in the rest of the country (except some parts of Indiana) feel like they pulled one over on Time, Ben Franklin style, the hourly workers scheduled at her hospital log a full hour that is effectively wiped from their time cards: in other words, they work for nine hours but get paid for eight. She did say that people were conscious of this "volunteer" work and tried to schedule the same staff for the weekend that springs ahead so that things even out a bit. But when you think about it, you can start to imagine the pressures that this one measly hour puts on labor.
Take those who, like my family's neighbors since I was age 10, work on dairy farms. Cows are not beholden to daylight savings time but instead they need to be fed and milked on a very regular schedule. So my neighbors simply disregarded the nonsense of saving daylight and followed instead what my sister and I began to call "cow time."
And yet while some are forced to pay the price for DST and others refuse it, still others relish it. The attitude seems to me to bear some relation to the kind of industry one is in. Academia, as I have written here before, has a peculiar relationship to time, and so some of us get a little giddy about the extra hour. I have heard from some of my graduate students that their good friend Grim, who is also a graduate student in one of my departments, relishes this time of year and likes to "save" her hour and "collect" it later when she really needs it. Apparently this means weeks later if she so wishes (though maybe that has been exaggerated through the retellings; clarification would be welcome). Still, I find this idea amusing and have never really understood how it works practically--that is, when class schedules and regular schedules march forward, how is it that Grim can decide for herself when to use the hour?
For my part, it seems like the hour just kind of settles in gradually and almost imperceptibly, dispersing itself as meal times and sleep times and caffeine times struggle to adjust. Practically, it also means that my students and I are going to be incredibly hungry at the five o' clock end of seminar tomorrow. Because let's face it: humans and cows aren't really all that different.
I just wrote to a friend that I've never been so in need of a weekend. I have a little catching up to do, but with a couple of small exceptions that only require the old print and send, the bulk of all the letter writing and whatnot is behind me--hooray!
It has been a rough week, people, so now I'm going to TCP, but this time that P is me. After the dogs and I walked John part-way to his conference, I biked to the farmers' market where I loaded up on lamb and beef for the winter and then to the grocery store where I bought the ingredients for chai tea and pomegranate margaritas (I'm trying pom-blueberry this time). I cleaned the house, started laundry, and mowed the leaves. The dogs are upstairs huddled together in the one square of sunlight that hits the bed mid-afternoon, and so I'm settling in to the quiet with a tall chai soy latte and my grad seminar readings--this week is biological sciences week. Later on, I'm going to do something I haven't done (I mean really done) in what seems like ages: make dinner.
When considered in light of the mad, mad frenzy that is a
professor's October, it begins to seem almost too perfect to celebrate the month's end by having legions of small, inscrutable freaks ringing our doorbell and asking for candy.
Along with all the other MoveOn.org members, I received your recent emails, and I have a few observations. First, Mr. Gore, I want to thank you for appealing simultaneously to our practical and our frugal sides from the very beginning, especially with your suggestion that a contribution of $25.00 will, among other things, "solve the Climate Crisis" and "regain our nation's moral authority in the world." These feats, Mr. Gore, would take a miracle, which is the only reason I can possibly imagine that in a letter to a bunch of lefties and liberals you would end with a quote from The Bible. This quote--"Where there is no vision, the people perish"--is a good one, mind you. It's well chosen and relevant. But speaking as a rhetoric specialist, I think you might have more luck with the MoveOn readership if you quoted from another, more heavily monitored and consistently reliable source--say Wikipedia.
Mr. King, I read with interest your Halloween email--the one titled "I know scary"--the one that goes on to intimate that the Bush administration is the scariest thing since that one book you wrote about the car bearing a woman's name that flashed its headlights angrily on its murderous rampages. That shit scared me sleepless, and so at base I agree with your comparison. But something else about your note bothers me more deeply, and it has to do with something like authenticity. You are a writer, Mr. King, and it's difficult for me to imagine your writing (or even approving) sentences as colloquial as this, its email format notwithstanding: "The failure in Iraq and the recent string of scandals have put a bunch of new
districts into play." And my personal favorite, "Thankfully, this national nightmare is one we can end with--literally--a wake up
call." Surely you would agree with me that the wake up call you refer to still counts as figurative usage, and that a literal wake up call would need a beige colored push button phone with a startling orange light in a grimy hotel room, the likes of which few Republican congressmen would ever be caught in, page or no. You had a great metaphor going--why muck it up with the word literally?
And to our friends at MoveOn.org: I realize that some of us may not be reading your emails that carefully, and that this is likely the reason you offered to ghostwrite for Mr. Gore and Mr. King. But you should know that Eli Pariser and Tom Matzzie enjoy their own kind of celebrity with us MoveOn-ers (especially since The New Yorker ran its sleek spread on lefty activists including Pariser), and even though I admit I haven't had the time to read each message they sent, I appreciate their directness, and their occasional cursewords, even if I sometimes wonder about their unwaveringly alarmist tones. Oh, and if you're thinking of changing media--like that time last week when one of your representatives called me at home? You might want to rethink that. Phones are old school and therefore sacred, and email is going the way of the phone. I'm sure you know better than to try mass mailing, since we are mostly dutiful recyclers. Texting and IMing might be the way to go, but I can't speak for the rest of the readership on that score. I myself haven't gotten into either of those.
Bring back Eli, please. As much as I get a kick out of receiving emails from you two, I'd hate to think that MoveOn has run its course.
Sincerely yours, Debra Hawhee MoveOn member at both my email addresses
I have always had a weak stomach. I am quite prone to motion sickness,
and one of my strongest childhood memories is peering through the family car's rear windshield to watch my favorite
zebra-striped blanket tumble down the highway because my parents tossed it out the
window after I hurled all over it. When my coaches decided to run the players 'until they puked,' I was
never the first to visit a trash can, but upon hearing--or worse,
smelling--the first, I was unfailingly the second. I am also easily repulsed by detailed
descriptions of certain bodily maladies. Both my parents seem to find in such description a pleasure that rivals the intensity of my repulsion.
This makes for strained conversations, not to mention ruined appetites.
And so it's at least a little ironic that I am even working on bodies
and have been for years now. Perhaps, you think, it's easier to do
historical work on bodies than to encounter real-time accounts of
people's gastrointestinal issues. Maybe that's partly true, and could definitely apply to my first book, which focused on bodies made of bronze, or bodies discussed in texts. But this
does not apply to my teaching this semester, which veers wildly into
some of the most stomach twisting, appetite squelching discussions of
bodies: the sick, the ailing, the tortured.
It's been quite a nauseating ride. My reading-induced stomach knot started
with the unit on torture and Elaine Scarry's Body in Pain
and was revived this week (figural studies week) in two of our readings
in particular, one about Darwin's gastrointestinal difficulties, and
the other about Kant's. The latter quotes heavily from Kant's
descriptions of his own feces. The former article reports on how Darwin
once gave a short talk and then retched for 23 hours afterward. Incredulous, I shared this tidbit with John, who replied that
he's heard certain talks and then retched for 23 hours afterward.
One of the key links between these two weeks, however--the
torture week and the ailment week--has to do with moral repulsion and
physical repulsion and the fine, fine line between the two. This
perhaps accounts for why disgusted responses are inevitably wrapped in
moral judgments, or at least the two share both formal and affective qualities. Otherwise why would my parents always close their narratives with apologies? But it's certainly an issue I hope we can talk about further in class. And this class
might be a good time for people to try to unload stashes of Halloween
candy: I likely won't be partaking.