Speak, Memory




<-- Tempus fuggit

p.13 ¶ 3

At my high school, class periods were 40minutes long. Everybody knew this, and there was a buzzer at the end to let you know to move along to the next class. There was also another buzzer that would go off a few minutes before as a reminder that the period was about to end. Any movement, not to mention actually getting up, when this one went off would reveal you as a rank amateur, possibly even a freshman, and expose you to annoyed looks and outright laughter. It was a surprising amount of pressure, because no matter how long you'd been there, you'd always forget sometimes.

Under these conditions, a suggestion that it might be possible to live outside schedules can be pretty intriguing. Particularly to me, the irritable yet honors-level student, dissatisfied with the New Jersey educational system, and reading books like Up the Down Staircase and an already heavily-underlined copy of The Student as Nigger(now online) I'd found at the local used bookstore, where I spent so much time I was regularly asked for information by other shoppers. One of my teachers was explaining to us once how her family didn't know her grandmother's birthday. She was just born in a place and time before it was really paid attention to. She was just born X number of days before the fall harvest, or something. Most of the class was thoroughly confused by the concept. I was busy trying to figure out what day it was, and probably whether there'd be a quiz coming up in another class later.

I've still never really established much of a sense of time in myself. I can't keep track of Monday, Tuesday, etc. or generally be bothered to think more than about two days into the future. I've always resented having to remember that the months are of different lengths in a seemingly random fashion, my sister's birthday is October 10, and the other one's is somewhere in the middle of February. I've never been able to remember my mother's. I have to keep track of holidays of questionable origin that "belong" to a religion I don't subscribe to, because our not-Christian country just happens to have adopted many of them as national holidays. If the groundhog sees his shadow, then we have to set our clocks forward an hour in three weeks. Holidays irritate me. But most of all, I resent my birthday. My Special Day, which somehow seems to have very little to do with me or what I want. I once figured that I at least had some control over that.

“So, what do you want for your birthday?”


“Well, I'm getting you something, anyway.”


“So, what do you want for your birthday?”


And then I get something else entirely that I:

  1. Didn't want,
  2. Probably don't like,
  3. Likely will never use/wear/eat, and,
  4. Then have to find a way to unload

All because it's my(MY?) birthday, which I couldn't care less about, anyway. Despite many many years of trying to simply ignore the thing, I can't get away from it, and I have to accept that despite my efforts, people will insist on helping me celebrate it. All I did was not die. While this might be impressive for some people, I consider myself resourceful enough that it's not such a big deal. But I realize I'll have to at least act at playing along, and ask for something, if only to see if someone comes through.

For my birthday next year, I want a shoehorn; the kind with teeth.

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