Adventures in Time and Pace


So it’s four o’clock in the morning, and I’ve been up all night watching the BBC coverage of the American midterm elections.

Why? You might ask.  And actually, that’s a really good question.

I don’t care about the American midterm elections.  I’m not affected by them in any way whatsoever.  I didn’t even know they were happening until the coverage started. I have no idea what the keystone pipeline is, or why Georgia and Louisiana have a different voting system from everyone else, or what the difference is between senators and governors.  I don’t know why the right wing party is red and the left wing party is blue, which is clearly the wrong way round and makes me irrationally angry.  I have absolutely no idea why Iowa is important, or even where it is.  In fact, the only thing I know about Iowa is that Riley Finn came from there, and I spent all of seasons four and five hoping that he would be eaten by a giant hell-fiend so that Buffy would never have to sleep with him again.  Perhaps someone will introduce him to the new senator who’s good at castrating pigs.

Anyway, I stayed up to watch the election coverage because that’s what I do.  I’ve kept an all-night vigil with the BBC for every General Election and local council election, and even some local British elections I wasn’t voting in; so tonight something in my brain went, “Ooh, election; must stay up and watch.” Despite the fact that I don’t understand this election.  Despite the fact that I don’t care about this election.  Despite the fact that I am going to feel like crap in the morning.

This is not just a case of getting absorbed in something and staying up too late (although God knows that’s part of it).  It’s actually a problem with time.  There’s a part of my brain that registers what time it is, but somehow I can’t make the cognitive transition from random information to useful concept.

This has catastrophic implications for leaving the house:

It’s 8:30.  You need to leave at nine.
It’s 8:45.
It’s five to nine.
I know that, I’ve got a watch.  Do you think I’m an idiot?
OK, it’s 9:15. You were supposed to leave quarter of an hour ago.


Time ought to be a me-friendly concept; it’s logical, regular and predictable, which are things I like.  But somehow I’ve never mastered it.  I couldn’t read a clock face until I was 12, and even with digital clocks I still get a bit confused about how many minutes are in an hour or seconds in a minute.  I’ve had a lot of microwave disasters in my life.

Even without the minutes-and-hours thing, I just don’t seem to experience time the way other people do.  I know that the passage of time isn’t exactly a fixed experience for anyone (as in, an extra five minutes in bed lasts about 30 seconds, whereas five minutes at a cold bus stop goes on for an hour and a half).  But I really struggle to calculate how much time has passed, or estimate how long I need to do anything.  Despite a lifetime of evidence to the contrary, I’m still convinced that I can get up, get dressed, drink a cup of tea and get out of the house in less than ten minutes.

As stupid as it sounds, I’ve never quite mastered the idea that if I do this thing that takes an hour, that will make me an hour later for the next thing. I experience time as something totally fluid, infinite and malleable, which is obviously crazy, because who in the world thinks like that?

My inability to grasp everyone else’s linear perspective means that my life tends to swing between inactivity and blind panic.  In many ways, the Priesthood is a wonderful life for someone with wonky executive function and time management issues, because I don’t have to be in an office at 9:00 am every day, and I can take an hour here or there to decompress if I need to.  But it does require you to be able to create and manage your own work schedule, which is something I spectacularly fail to do.  Yes, of course I can email the funeral directors and watch the American election coverage and update this blog and have a shower and get nine hours sleep all in the same night.

Which is why, dear reader, tomorrow I will be tired, panicked and excessively cranky.  If you happen to see me coming towards you, you should probably take a leaf out of the Doctor’s book and run.