Monday, March 15, 2010

Sharing (Take 2)

I'm back in Richmond again.  My vacation didn't last nearly long enough.  They never do, do they?  Anyhoo, since I have to get back in the swing of things I thought a college-ish post might pull you guys right along with me.

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.)

My fact:
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.

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.  :)


  1. Hey Carrie,

    I usually read your blog but I've just started my own and am learning how great it is to get comments, so I thought I'd leave you one today :)
    Just think, when today's over, there will be 1440 less minutes until you and Kyle are together. My boyfriend and I are doing the long-distance thing right now too, while we're both in school, but we're only a few hours apart. Whenever I really miss him or haven't been able to see him for a few weeks, I always read your blog for a little perspective.
    Keep it up!


  2. Alyssa, thanks for commenting! I've been reading a lot of posts lately about "blog lurkers" (people that rarely comment) and it's been making me wonder how many people stop by that haven't left a message. I'm glad there's one less mysterious reader. ;) Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad thing to be a lurker. There are quite a few blogs I lurk on. (Usually b/c I feel like there are so many readers my opinions have already been stated by someone else.) I'm just way too curious about my readers for my own good. Haha.

    Anyhoo, to stop rambling, I've heard a lot of people say they use me/my blog to get things in perspective. I always think that's a little funny. There are girls who I use that way too. Mostly the wives/fiancees/girlfriends of deployed soldiers. I cannot yet imagine how dreadful that must be for them. :( It's like a "things could always be worse" and "people deal with harder situations everyday" type of motivation. If it helps you get through then I'm glad for it. ;) Heaven knows it helps me...

    Good luck with your blog! I'll have to stop by to check it out. ;) And thanks so much for the compliments. :D

  3. Dear Carrie,
    I am really happy to see how much progress you're making with the German. If you have any questions - always know I'm here, your little dictionary.
    Your short essay honestly made me cry. Almost. It was so... well-written and sad. Really sad. Sorry, I'm writing stupid things.
    But the idea of arranging the day like this is really genius, honestly. It makes me so sad that you have to feel this way, or bear this distance.
    I'd love to do so much more, but all I can do is send you all the love in the world & the best wishes of luck.

  4. Your essay was great! I hope you get an "A" on it! It's so funny to think about how much time you spend on a daily basis on mundane things like school, sleep, etc. It really boggles the mind!

  5. I just have to say that I love the whole concept of this essay - it's pure genius. Of course, it did seem to go a little off subject at the end but who can blame you. I love reading your blog and thought I'd leave a note saying so.

  6. Sophia, aw, thanks! :) German is so much more challenging than I'd expected! It's not so bad memorizing the terms. The hard part is learning new grammar rules. lol.

    Sarah, it does indeed. It kind of amazed me when I sat down with the calculator.

    Bethany, I'm glad you said this. I'm not a fan of the ending either. ;) [Thirty minutes, though, remember? I procrastinated this assignment. Haha.]

  7. That was adorable! I love how you actually counted up the minutes... that's really sweet! He's lucky to have you :)

  8. Carrie,
    This is a great essay and it seems like a great exercise to improve your writing. Right now, I'm on a list kick, but I think I might try this to shake things up.

  9. Carrie, love the clever twist on minutes. You have a gift in your wit and writing skills. Now I only wish you were making the most of the minutes outside of those precious fifteen. Just think of the 98.9% of your life that you are spending as a "human robot" ... time is a precious gift Carrie. While you wait and prepare for your life with Kyle, please try to live fully in each moment. You are so vibrant and alive and your life is not waiting to begin ... it IS. Now. At this very moment. We don't have guarantees that there is a tomorrow.

    In the meantime, practice those culinary skills will you! I don't want you two to starve when you finally share a kitchen. : )

  10. vacations are funny like that. they take forever to come around and then disappear once they actually start.

    when i read "nonfiction essay" my mind made up its mind not to like it... i am not nonfiction's biggest fan. but i have to say, i loved your essay. you have a gift with words. i suggest pursuing writing dreams as a way to waste time until your wedding and move.

  11. Well now I'm just hoping my professor likes it as much as you guys. :) Thanks, everyone!

  12. Carrie, how your class could NOT appreciate that essay would be a mystery to me! As usual, it was fantastic. I am quite sure you have an A+++++ in that class right now. They may even ask you to teach it (live via satellite) from Germany next year!!!
    P.S. I think you wrote, "I hope you (all?) have a wonderful day"...?? And that leads to a big "Buona Giornata" to you, too! (tee hee...)

  13. Yep, that's what the German translates to. ;)

  14. Carrie, check out my blog. I tagged you in a fun blogger game...

  15. Oh yes, and then I also just nominated you for a blog award...

  16. I'm not sure you'll see this comment midst the sea of people exclaiming how awesome you are (and you are, believe me), but I love your blog and I gave you an award - :)

  17. I love this, you handle being away from Kyle so differently from how I handled being away from Thomas. I doubt I would have been this eloquent or logical. I hope your eassay does well love x

  18. Jon, I always read every last comment. Always always. :) THANK YOU!!!

    Sarita, another "Thanks" goes to you! :)

  19. Hey Carrie! You have an award waiting at my blog!

  20. I honestly love reading about you & Kyle, it makes me smile! And I also have an award for you at my blog. =]

  21. lol And I nominated you for ANOTHER blog award! I'm not sure, you might already have it but I'm not seeing where your blog awards are so I can't check.

  22. Carrie....I LOVE your writing.....


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