Scott Alexander

About Time

About Time

Scott Alexander November 13, 2012
Clock #700

When I moved into my little box of an apartment just over two years ago, I had very few personal possessions. Excited about starting a new chapter in life once more, I made a mental list of items that I would like to have in my new home. One of my first purchases was a wall clock.

While I love the notion of not paying any attention to time, it’s impractical given the nature of life. And today, the current time is blasted everywhere. Nearly every single modern electronic device with any kind of display has a clock available. My guess would be that, for anyone reading this, you can find the current time without even turning your head.

So when I moved in here, I purchased an analog wall clock, pictured above (and more fully below). If I’m going to keep track of time, I want it to at least be a somewhat visually satisfying experience. So I bought that. It’s aesthetically pleasing enough. Roman numerals. Classic French styling, instinctively putting warm fuzzies in my mind, through childhood recollection and picture-books. The oblong shape provides an ample amount of funk. (Not “whimsy.” Funk.)

It’s a mass-produced clock, purchased from a retail chain store. It is not a basket of special flowers. But it satisfies my soul enough, looking at it.

When I brought the clock home, I took some time figuring out where it would go best in my apartment. (Eight minutes, to be exact. No, I kid.) I wanted it to be located such that I could look up from almost anywhere and see it without time being overbearing. I decided it would work best on the top shelf in the corner of my apartment, above my desk.

When I wake in the morning, I don’t grab my phone to see the time. I look at the clock across the room. If I happen to wake in the middle of the night, I turn a light on to look at the clock. When I sit in front of this computer (as I’m doing now) and want to know how much time I have left before I have to move on to the next thing, I don’t look to the corner of my screen. I turn my eyes upward and look toward the clock above my head.

Do I have time to do laundry?
How long before I need to hop in the shower?
What time do I need to leave?
How much time do I have left?

Maybe it’s the pushing forward of time, through hands that slowly make their way around the face, that appeals to me. The more I think about that notion, though, the more awful it seems. So I really don’t know what it is. I simply prefer looking at an analog clock.

Daylight Savings

Nine days ago, when we all fell back in time, I forgot to change the time on my clock. And despite automatically having the correct time on my cell-phone and computer, the two devices I spend the most time with, I showed up to work the next day an hour early. My employer laughed at me. I went home.

But I didn’t change the time on the clock to be in synch with everyone else in Eastern Standard Time. Because I realized how awesomely productive I was now. I had just bought myself a whole extra hour! For the next couple of days, when I woke up in the morning, I looked at the clock, became excited, and patted myself on the back for being up earlier than usual. I had the secret! I’ll just stay one hour out of sync with everyone else in the mornings. And I’ll be “productive.”

Nine days later and I just set my clock back an hour. So I’m with the rest of you people in EST now. After the first couple of days of being one hour out of sync, I realized I wasn’t actually any more productive and that I was spending too much time doing the “ok, well, it’s not actually that time, so you still have an hour left” thing in my head. So I was looking at the clock more. I was more trapped by time than I was before.

Damnit, Time!!! You’ve won this round. I’m not giving up, though. I know we can work this out. Somehow, we’ll coexist peacefully, you and I. For now, we’ll just go back to the way things were.

By the way, for those of you mad at me for having wasted minutes of your life by reading this, you can take solace in the fact that it took me a lot longer to put this together than it did for you to read it. I even pulled my clock off of the corner shelf and took a picture of it for this. A few pictures to be precise. So you win. You and time.

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