Saturday, September 21, 2019

Virgin Time

File:John Everett Millais - Mariana - Google Art Project.jpg
The smoke alarm, set off by my wife's cooking something eggy in the oven as I slept, woke me. The aerator that opened last night's wine at the hands of son #2 for Shabbat dinner lay in shards, thanks to The Worst Cat in the World (TM). The birds outside clattered. So I lay in bed again, fifteen minutes, thinking about what half-an-hour later I'd type, why and how.

I'm no morning person. But I must rise early lately, due to teaching at nine one day a week. Given traffic to Irvine, over forty miles away, it takes me nearly 90 minutes, no matter when I leave near 6. If I leave later, count on two hours. As I must start at 9:30, and as I want to get some work done beforehand, lacking any space there but wherever I lay my bag down at a classroom PC before the fact, I attest to the life of a "freeway flyer" that nearly twenty-five years ago I thought I'd left behind when I landed a full-time (albeit "at will," no tenure-track being offered us faculty) gig. Now, due to precarity (all these new jobs, all of us working more than one of them to swell the boasts of whomever governs us), and unexpected worst-case scenarios due to duplicitous deceit of one among "protected" classes which earnest "progressives" romanticize and unscrupulous lawyers monetize in our blue-city-state oligarchy polis, our cash flow dwindles. We're back to both at two jobs now, and feeling it.

Pretty much where we started, thirty-0ne years ago, when we met, way before progeny. Which was about where we started, having met around this very week, or was it -end?

(I know. Looking over the last entry after I typed this one, I need to ease up kvetching. Be happy for what I have got, and kept, and found, or even lost and found. Seriously. No emoji.)

As I've intimated on this blog, the past few years I've had to cut back my true confessions. Due to a mash-up of reticence in an increasingly "outraged" sensibility bent on exposing any who dare to question the MSM and the thought police, and a pressing need to, well, grade papers, commute, and do all that teaching more students for the same pay (the post-recession's efficient production thanks to technological innovation, lowering "labor costs" and maximizing profit), something fun's got to give. I love reviewing books and music, but the lack of time and the brainpower needed to keep this endeavor going every other day put (un-) paid to my leisure-time hobby. I keep reading, but I tend to keep track on my Kindle of whatever I've checked out from the library or my own acquisitions, largely gleaned from what I can find and not buy, due to the lack of shelf space, the lack of discretionary income, and the lack of downtime to compile my wisdom for the ages. Whereas in the past, I used this blog and Amazon to keep track of my reading and notes, I now use highlights or files. Goodreads or library records can remind me of my bookish roaming, as A. does not promote any remarks I give them anymore unless it's under a "verified purchase," and those tally few.

So that means a lot of my intellectual and critical effort is off your screen. I've had to triage. Thus, the titular phrase of today, gleaned from three decades ago when a friend of a friend, a prof at USC, used it for his own time for writing before his real workday began. As a hyper-caffeinated New Yorker, of course, he was used to the grind, no matter where his career took him, L.A. or Copenhagen. I figure now that I have weaned myself, never that dependent anyhow, off tea for a boost in the morning (practically, as I may not have space enough to brew and sip before I dash), I rely on my own steam. However, my engine does not usually get in gear until nearer mid-day, if I am left to my night-owl aftermath. Yet I realize how, "burning daylight" as a Chicago exec turned Dakotan rancher chided us as we turned up near lunch, weary after traveling, to ask at his rental cabin where to drive in the Black Hills, I've been wasting away a lot of potential hours in the land of Nod. Ah, Irish Catholic guilt.

Therefore, keep looking back this way more. After all, I work every day now, hours on end. Students do not wait and administrators clock turnaround of grades, and how much I enrich  the "learning management systems" dominating my career. The days of autonomy behind closed doors on campus ended; a webcam records me. I cannot promise that the days I have to saddle up before dawn that I will be clattering away at my keyboard, but since dear friends (some of whom I have made by blogging and finding simpatico fellow-souls out in cyberia of similarly sensitive and intuitive compatibility), asked me if and when I'd begin churning out my fevered thoughts again, well, as at least some days I am blessedly at home, you may catch me here. Can't promise that I tell all, but keep an ear perked for craic go leor.

Photo: if you type in "virgin" + "time" at the Tate keyword search, this is all you get. John Everett Millais, "Mariana" (1851). If you turn off safe mode on a browser, you'll find more.

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