Monday, November 21, 2011

On Time

The task was to write a personal time-line. In such a task I imagine many will provide pivotal moments, moments that had time in the background, as a date, but where time ne'er took center stage. Time is always with us, yet time is rarely thought about extensively it would seem. For me, time is center stage and any one who has asked me for the time knows that I don't wear a watch. Time binds and the watch band binds me too close to it. Time does a lot of things. Time flies and time is lost. Time is money so don't waste my time. Time is of the essence, yet one should take your time. Queer time (QST) is about 15 minutes behind schedule, along with Color People Time (CPT). Those of us who might fall in such categories are allotted time to be late. We take our time and perhaps waste your time.

It seems odd to write a personal time-line as it seems to tame the unruliness that is time, past time - history. The very image of a time-line, to me, asks that time be straightened out, made into a proper story that is linear, that follows one thing after another. However, to give such a time-line requires a line be broken, many lines perhaps, as I give an account of my "I" to individuals who I do not entirely know - crossing lines of intimacy, professionalism, and propriety. We were asked to make a personal time-line, a rather strange request and one that many may feel is a "waste of time". Time cannot refrain from rearing its clockface as we take time to make a timeline about the time of our lives. We take time out of our personal time-line to narrate the line of time we have been on - rather strange indeed - and all most likely narrowed down to a tiny moment in time since there are so many of us with time to share.

Time is of the essence though as my time to narrate is limited...I don't want to "waste" your time or take too much of your time because to do so would make me seem inconsiderate with your time and well, time is money. Yet, narrate I must to look like I am participating in the time of this meeting and being a team-player.

I keep messing up though as I begin to narrate this personal time-line. I cannot understand what person I am meant to be here in the space and time of work. There are rules in place that seem to limit what "personal" can be. Non-fraternization clauses make it nearly impossible to be "personal" with managers, yet here in the professional space and time I am asked to narrate the personal. This makes me feel like I should "sterilize" the personal for this space steeped in worries about harassment, propriety, and maintaining "professional" boundaries. One person's personal is another person's harassing statement. And since this is an "at-will" employer, any time one of us can lose our jobs making it seem necessary to mind our "p's" and "q's". Since I like spending time here, the task of narrating my time in the face of such complexities is rather overwhelming.

Perhaps I am over-thinking this. Making it out to be more serious than it is supposed to be. I don't think so though as I think giving an account of our lives, even mundane, seemingly comical things, expose us in ways we cannot predict bringing us into the politics of representation. The personal is political, yet the time here does not seem to be political. Yet, the task at hand is political, how do "I" tell about my time in such a way that "you" will see me in a particular light that makes our "time" together on the floor, enjoyable. Do I narrate the time of my education - the most time-consuming aspect of my life? Do I narrate mundane details like when I wet my pants in the 2nd grade to get a laugh, to make peeing your pants not seem shameful? Do I talk about the sexy time I have had with men whose names I can't remember, to push the boundaries and provide an alternative to the story of engagement and marriage others have told? Are any of these times proper to talk about this time? Or have I merely wasted your time with my own curious fascination with time, telling you little about my personal time-line except between the lines or in questions that may or may not expose me to your glazed over eyes?

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