Friday, September 12, 2014

Time Is Kind of An Illusion, Sometimes.

I may or may not have become unstuck in time.

Granted, I live in an apartment where, if not for the use of clocks, it is impossible to tell whether it is night, day, or anything in between. Clocks are, of course, imperfect - with the very distinct exception of that atomic clock my grandfather once showed my mother that one time when she was five and having a brief crisis over the existence of measurable time. Sometimes, it seems, PM can be accidentally switched with AM, and you find yourself awake several minutes after your class started, but with the space around you looking, for all the world, like it was the middle of the night.

Admittedly, this environment does make it easier to deal with the ensuing panic.

I threw on some clothes. Once outside, confronted with the somewhat later than midday sun, it became apparent that I was late. I had not, in fact, been dreaming when my alarm failed to go off and I wandered my bedroom in a haze looking for socks. The real world is alarmingly real when you can feel its breeze and see its clouds and hear its too-fast New York cars in the distance.

The walk to class is a short one. It's about the length of "Way Down Hadestown". Sometimes, if I'm walking towards that other part of campus where the language and science classes are, I can get through "Hey, Little Songbird". On days when I'm distracted and I've been known to stop and contemplate the colors of a leaf, or an abandoned piece of paper on the ground, I get all the way to "When The Chips Are Down".

These are from Hadestown, by the way. It's a concept album by Anais Mitchell, and you should definitely look it up.


I climbed the steps of Breslin Hall, frantic and sweaty, still trying to shake the dreamlike feeling from my surroundings. At this point, I had only been to this class once. I knew where to go purely from muscle memory, as it was in the same room as the Nerd Club I had been attending for four years. Consciously, there was a good chance I was completely unaware of what I was doing or where I was going. I opened the door. I was expecting a classroom of people. I expected to find myself on the wrong side of a room full of eyes - interrupted, and perplexed.

Instead, the room was empty.

I closed the door. I took a step back. I took a deep breath, shook my head, and opened it again.

Still empty. Still strange.

There are several steps that must be taken when arriving at an empty classroom that should not be empty.


Or, alternatively, the blackboard. Often, an empty classroom just means that class is being held outside. In this case, the board revealed only the details of a class on marketing. Or economics. Or, possibly, existential terror. I've never been very good at business.


There is a good chance you have missed a sign on the door saying that class has been cancelled or moved. These signs are usually small, half-unintelligible, and complicated. The only thing on the door of 211 Breslin was a spider - small, white, and quick moving.


This is when it get truly complex. Both the general step, and in the context of my story.

Professors like to e-mail you during those moments you are least likely to check your e-mail. It's different for everyone. If you check your e-mail before bed, they will write in the morning. If you check your e-mail right before class, they will have e-mailed you last night, and the message will be lost. All of these e-mails will be to the school address you never use. They will then complain that students never check their e-mail.

If you have a smart phone, this step may or may not be easier. If you have an old, fairly temperamental smart phone, this step will only be slightly easier. In my case, I spent a good twenty minutes standing awkwardly in the wide, cavernous hallway of Breslin, desperately trying to convince my four-year-old iPhone 4 that it would be a good idea to log into my portal. It was only after this task was completed that I noticed a poster on the wall announcing that the Hofstra smartphone app had finally been rebooted and updated.

The poster was literally at eye level. An impressive feat, considering I'm only just under six feet tall.

My inbox contained three new e-mails. Out of the three, only one of them said "I am sick, and therefore will not be able to teach class today." It was from my Eastern Philosophy professor.

The Eastern Philosophy professor I had three years ago.

I opened the e-mail.

Sure enough, it explained, apologetically, that my professor would not be in class today, and that we would continue our discussion of Taoism on Tuesday. I remember this discussion on Taoism. I remember jumping back and forth between note taking and a film pitch about trailer parks and Freddie Mercury. I remember it being moved from a Thursday to a Tuesday. I remember being a sophomore with cherry red hair and pants that were too big for me.

I checked the date. It had been sent today.

I looked around me. The hallway was empty. Faintly, I could hear other professors giving lectures on things I couldn't make out. I heard the sound of an elevator. I heard someone order coffee from the coffee stand downstairs. There was nothing strange about this space. There was everything strange about this space.

I sighed. I put in my earbuds, and returned to Hadestown. I walked back to my timeless apartment. I tried to watch The Daily Show, but the only full episode that would load was one from a week ago. I contemplated the past. I ate breakfast at two in the afternoon. I wished, not for the first time, that my grandfather was still alive to take me to his atomic clock, and reassure me that time was, in fact, real.

The next time I left my apartment, it was dark. I hadn't noticed it change. I sighed again, itched a bed bug bite, and went to class.

No comments:

Post a Comment