In The Dark.

Thanks for the words of encouragement, glasses!

Thanks for the words of encouragement, glasses!

It’s now dark when I get up in the mornings which doesn’t bother me because I usually get up so early I get up in the dark most of the year. About the only times it isn’t dark when I get up is midsummer when the days are at their longest and for a week or so after Daylight Saving Time ends and we fall back or spring forward and I wish we could just step sideways and avoid the whole thing because the name is just misleading. We didn’t save any daylight. If we did I could have kept some in a jar and carried it around with me and pulled it out when I need it, like when I’m coming home. And that’s what really bothers me: we’ve reached the time of year when I come home in the dark. It’s like that old joke some people make about how their job is to be a mushroom: they’re kept in the dark and fed shit. My job isn’t like that because there’s plenty of light to go around while I’m at work even if I don’t have time to get outside and enjoy it. And that’s inevitable. It would happen even without Daylight Saving Time because it’s just the time of year and we live at a latitude where the days inevitably get shorter and colder because our side of the planet is moving closer to the sun and if there’s one thing nature enjoys it’s being counterintuitive.

It just makes me wonder why we even need Daylight Saving Time anymore because it just seems like an unnecessary prodding of an already completely arbitrary system. Most of us have ten fingers and ten toes and base ten is almost universally accepted for arithmetic so naturally we have a way of measuring units of time that puts twenty four hours in a day with each hour consisting of sixty minutes, but at least each minute is sixty seconds, which is a little bit of consistency. And we accept it because it’s what we’re used to, even though that’s not necessarily a good reason for keeping around a system that was probably invented in ancient India thousands of years—and millions of years ago. On the other hand there’s no good reason for getting rid of it either which is why even in countries that have already accepted the metric system for weights and distances metric time was a huge flop. Those who were in favor of it couldn’t put up much of a fight because they never could show up for any meetings because they always ended up oversleeping by a few hundred millihours, but that’s another story. And I remember in first grade we spent at least a week learning how to read analog clocks, but I never could get it because it made no sense to me. It was bad enough that that it would be five o’clock at least twice a day and you couldn’t necessarily tell them apart except for those brief periods in fall and spring when one five o’clock would be dark and the other would be light, but then Daylight Saving Time would start or end and screw everything up. The hour hand was short and the minute hand was long even though an hour is long and a minute is short and the second hand was frequently the same length as the minute hand. My teacher pointed out that you could see the second hand going around but that didn’t help much either because I was bored and spent a lot of time fixedly watching the clock so I could see the minute hand moving too as it got closer and closer to when it was time to go outside for recess. And that was the one thing I had to look forward to because this was in the middle of winter and there wasn’t going to be a lot of daylight left when I got home so I had to take what I could get. Then as I got older everything went digital and learning to read an analog clock turned out to be almost as much of a waste of time as learning the quadratic formula. Sure it’s fun at parties but other than that it’s one of those things I’m just never going to use.

At least the days getting shorter is a temporary thing and we don’t live anywhere near either the north or south poles where there are days when the sun barely comes up over the horizon and the nights are really, really long. Although I think that would be kind of cool to experience. It makes me think of the summer I worked the night shift at a printing plant. I used to be a real night person, and I guess I still l am since I get up for work so early it pretty much is still night. It was a great job because the printing press broke down every two minutes and took two hours to repair so I had a lot of time to read. Then the sun would come up and that’s how I knew it was almost time to go home because the place only had an old analog clock. And when there was work to be done I did it even though I had no clue what I was doing. It was good because something about the night shift just jived with my circadian rhythms. As a kid I always thought the term was “cicadian rhythms”, because cicadas spend thirteen years underground sucking tree sap, and in that job that was an appropriate metaphor. I was in the dark and I’m pretty sure as an employee I sucked.

cicada

10 Comments

  1. Shawna

    Yet another benefit of living in Arizona, you know, besides the no gun registration laws. We don’t have daylight savings time here. And, it really screws with a tradition I have of sending a text at exactly 1:37 to my best friend in San Francisco to tell her I love her like they did on Empire Records.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      When I went to college in Indiana I thought, well, at least I won’t have to deal with the stupid time change twice a year. Just my luck I picked a college in southern Indiana where they change their clocks along with most of the rest of the country.
      But if I moved to Arizona I’m sure there’d be a period of adjustment there too as I tried to get used to y’all’s time zone. At least the change would be permanent.

      Reply
  2. kdcol

    Interesting, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone refer to cicadas as cicadas. Everyone calls them locusts here. I used to LOVE finding their empty skeletons. Yeah, Gerald and I were just talking about Daylight Savings the other day and how it can probably go away now. Yes, please. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That’s funny that you call cicadas locusts because locusts are really big ugly grasshoppers that are only found in desert areas. And it’s probably because of the locusts that they’re desert areas because those beasts swarm like crazy. We get the huge outbreaks of thirteen-year cicadas but they’re nothing compared to locusts.
      Finding cicada skeletons is fun but for me the coolest thing is just watching one emerge from its skeleton. They’re whitish-green at first but they always have those red eyes.
      A friend of mine made a “13-Year Reunion” t-shirt with a picture of a big cicada on it. I can’t wait for 2024 when I can wear it again.

      Reply
  3. Gina W.

    I don’t like the days being so short but anytime I feel like complaining I remind myself of what it was like to live in Russia for one winter. My classes started at like 9 or 10AM and were over by 3PM. I don’t remember the exact time of the sunrise and sunset but basically it occurred when I was in the classroom. I would leave for school in the dark and then go home in the dark. Plus it was freaking cold and there was ALWAYS snow on the ground. I got really depressed really quickly. No wonder there’s so much alcoholism in Russia. I get it people of Russia– really, I do.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I had completely forgotten it but I was only there for a week in December but really noticed how short the days were. And how there was always snow on the ground. In Moscow and St. Petersburg it wasn’t just snow either. It was filthy gray slush and it was wet and freezing.
      Spending a whole winter there must have been pretty miserable.

      Reply
  4. Ann Koplow

    I hate the time change and I love this post.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      The important thing is you found something to love. It’s always good to have that balance.

      Reply
  5. Sandra

    I don’t know you but based on your blog posts I’d hardly say you suck as an employee. You’re too methodical. I’m a nightshift worker and I enjoy daylight savings time. At least this way I get a little bit of daylight during my drive home. Otherwise it would be dark when I left for work and it would be dark when I returned

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It really all depends on where I work. That was a miserable job. And my wife would laugh if she heard me described as methodical. If I come across that way then I’ve really got you fooled. I’d forget my head if it weren’t attached.

      Reply

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