In my creative writing class we did an exercise that was supposed to help us come up with creative non-fiction topics. We had to make a list of random facts. It could be facts about ourselves, facts about the world, anything, so long as it was something true. Then we had to take the list home, choose a fact, and develop a true essay around it. I'm sharing my essay here because I think you guys will appreciate it more than my class will, given that you know the inner workings of my mind. I spent about thirty minutes on this, so bare in mind that it wasn't exactly the fruit of much labor. (When the day comes that I stop using my relationship as the center point of my writing I'll eat my hat. Figuratively, of course. I happen to like my hat.)
There are 1,440 minutes in a day.
My short essay:
There are 1,440 minutes in a day. Sometimes using them all up is a chore.
For approximately 480 minutes each day, I am asleep. This is usually a good thing. Sleep passes time, and I have a lot of time to kill. The problem with sleeping is that it doesn’t really dull the mind the way some people say. In fact, I’d say it heightens the productivity of the mind. In sleep, we are not bound by the conventions of everyday life. We can act on our deepest desires and instincts without the constraint of societal norms. Gravity doesn’t exist. Time is not a linear thing. Sleep is the mind’s playground, but our dreams are not always ones we’d like to have. There is no hiding in sleep. The mind unleashed shows us what we can shove aside when we are awake.
About 180 minutes are spent in a classroom. I take notes about things I won’t need to remember. I lock the information into tiny cells, stowing it away for a rainy day when I might want to impress someone with a random fact. Sometimes it is tedious work, remembering all of these things, but occupies a chunk of my day and that is key. On the mornings when I don’t want to drag myself out into the cold I simply remind myself that if I do not go I’ll only be sitting at home, alone, without a distraction. That usually does the trick.
Two hundred forty minutes are wasted away behind a desk where I make labels and folders and copy files and shred social security numbers and preserve things in lamination. In the end I have to shred the laminated things as well. There is a phone I’m supposed to answer, but in the year and a half I’ve been working behind this desk it has only rang three times. Each time I am startled. The conversations lasted approximately 30 seconds each. Each caller asked for someone named Donald. Obviously I am not Donald.
These tasks leave 540 minutes unused. It isn’t like a cell phone bill. The minutes can’t just keep rolling over until I find a day I’d like to stretch. (Wouldn’t that be lovely?) I know I won’t be getting them back, so I try to make the most of them.
I might enjoy 30 or 40 of them while diving into a book. Sometimes I take an hour or so to cook dinner for a few friends. Cooking is a project of sorts; I’m a housewife-in-training. I figure the skill will be useful soon enough, so I’ve taken to practicing. It helps me spend my minutes and it produces quite a few smiles. We laugh when things explode or burn or turn to mush, and we savor the few dishes that miraculously parade from the oven edible. (About 35 minutes could be devoted to cleaning up the dishes, but we usually put that off until there is not a single spoon left, causing this task to take 80 minutes instead.)
Recently, I adopted an orange cat I call Max. He takes up at least 180 minutes of my day. He likes to sit in my lap while I read or write or type. He thinks he’s the center of the universe, or if he isn’t, that he should be.
There are usually (but not always) about fifteen minutes when I pretend that I’m somewhere else. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes less. It always happens like this: My phone rings. I drop whatever I’m holding and run for it. I’ve been known to jump over the back of the sofa, dive under the coffee table, or even fall down the stairs in pursuit of the phone. I have obtained multiple bruises and scrapes from this enthusiasm, but none of them are ever apparent in my voice when I answer. Actually, I usually don’t notice them until after the call is over.
I say “Hello?” with an expectant smile. He says “Hi,” and I can hear that he’s happy too. For about fifteen minutes I stop feeling every inch of the 4,400 miles between us. It disappears. Instead of being surrounded by people from home (or being in the middle of the grocery or whispering in the hallway outside of a tedious class) I am far away in a place that isn’t quite familiar yet. He kicks off those tan boots and peels away that ridiculously crisp jacket and we flop down on our sofa where he uses my lap for a pillow as we swap stories about what happened in our days. No matter how things went we are happy to be together at the end of it. Even if it’s only for fifteen minutes.
There are fifteen minutes of my day in which I feel alive. A little basic math will tell you that those minutes only make up .01% of my daily existence. There are around 84,960 minutes left until our next reunion. About 885 of them will be spent talking with him. For the other 84,075 I’ll be a human robot, fighting the numbness that is my worst nightmare.
Each minute of my annoyingly long day is one less left on the countdown to my next real smile. Sometimes thinking about it logically helps. At the very least it takes a few minutes to calculate it all…
Now then, a penny for your thoughts?
Ich hoffe Sie, dass alle wunderbaren Tage haben. :)