Corvus the Crow

The Crow has a reputation not just as a harbinger of destiny and a mythical gossip, but as the prototypical divine procrastinator.

In the myth of the constellation of Corvus, the sacred Crow gets distracted by some unripe figs on his way to fetch water for Apollo and ends up waiting months for them to ripen before eating his fill, then remembering his task. He blames his delay not on his own  distractable nature, but instead accuses Hydra the water serpent of blocking his path and so is punished by the god. Corvus loses his silver white feathers which are changed to soot and is placed  in the stars within eternal reach of a cup he cannot drink from except when the figs are ripe.

In the lore of Saint Expeditus, the Devil came to tempt the saint into procrastination by taking  the form of a crow crying “Cras, Cras” or “Tomorrow, Tomorrow.” The saint resisted and can be appealed to to conquer the sins of distraction, tardiness and delay.

The Late, Great Corbid Ravenous…

This perpetually being 10 minutes late for everything thing is getting ridiculous. Exactly twice today I got within one intersection of where I needed to be, with time to spare and then screwed it up in a ten minute way at the last minute.It’s like the universe doesn’t want me to go places.

Appointment A) Didn’t get from left lane to right lane in time and had to do a U turn and backtrack. Finally got to my kid’s school for a conference only 3 minutes late, but spent another two minutes dealing with a new and confused gate monitor and another 5 minutes getting lost in the hallway.

Appointment B) Had the route memorized up to the last turn and loaded on Google Maps. Got there and my phone was too hot and froze up so had to guess. Guessed wrong and made a right turn instead of a left, then had to go a mile out of my way to make a U turn and ended up officially too late for what I was there for.

It’s not a not leaving in time thing as when I try leaving early things seem to go 10 minutes worth of awry (if I’m relaxed and in control.)

Add an additional 5-10 minutes of lateness for each layer of lateness related stress/anxiety, meaning for most things I am 10-15 minutes late, but for something where I know people will be angry at me like a family dinner, I have at times left as much as 30 minutes early and ended up an hour late.

I can’t speak for other people, but for me the usual presumptions of “what lateness means” do not apply.

It’s not that I am intentionally being rude, inconsiderate, lazy, “selfish,” or disrespectful of your time. In fact, I feel terrible that you have to wait for me and deeply ashamed that I can’t guarantee I’ll be on time, even with the best of planning and care.

It’s that I’m perpetually ten minutes late.

Also it’s that, if you’re me, getting into a car and driving somewhere is like arming yourself for battle. Traffic represents a realistic threat to life and limb (I have the scars to prove it) and even though 95% of the time it’s benign, I can’t permanently erase this knowledge.

Also, it’s that I am slightly “mind blind” when it comes to predicting others’ intentions and slightly bad at integrating sensory input in real time.

Not so bad as to be challenged in every day life, but enough so that when you combine  having to figure out other what people are thinking with having to keep track of lots of moving objects, traffic signals, and landmarks,  I’ve got my hands full.

Trying to add navigation or time management to the mix takes every remaining bit of mental and spiritual energy left in me and I suppose the truth of it is that I’m about 10 minutes short of being up to the task.

Interestingly enough, when I’m on foot or being driven (except by other chronically late people) I have a much lower incidence of lateness. However, I still screw up if it’s public transportation, for some reason.

Attempting various “lifehacking” solutions to solve this thing at last. Will report them as I try them and someday could share the timeliness Holy Grail. Till then, see you later.

And by “later” I mean later than you are expecting me. Almost exactly 10 minutes later, to be precise. Because, really, when you think about it, I’m actually surprisingly reliable.

Across the Wire

Late afternoon, fall, 1988, laying on the floor, listening to Ziggy Stardust for the first time all the way through, the phone cord stretched for miles so it reaches my room, and she is breathing on the other line, but we don’t speak, we just listen.

It’s November now, I am babysitting, I am bored. It is a Saturday night and I call her. “Are you watching Dr. Who right now? What channel? Holy Crap!” We are stunned into silence by paper maiche minotaur headed monsters and foil robots. Every single planet has a showdown in the same rock quarry. Every Saturday night from here to the end of high school, with minor exceptions, we call each other NOT to talk for approximately 90 minutes, depending on episode length. Her preteen sister whines for the phone every time on the other end. “Why do you need to hog the phone? You’re NOT EVEN TALKING!”

After the episode we talk for hours until one or both of us start to nod off. If one of us is grounded, we do this secretly and whisper to avoid detection. One time a coyote comes and looks right in the window as this is happening and I describe it while keeping my face as still as possible, thinking I might spook it and make it run away by showing too much emotion.

Summer, 1989. I’m in the hospital, recovering. I was in a car accident and I might be dying. Only nobody has bothered to tell me that I might be dying. I feel like something’s being hidden from me and I am vaguely unhappy about this. I am neither happy nor unhappy about almost anything else because I’m on so much morphine that I actually have a whole other team of imaginary doctors I’ve hallucinated into the schedule of morning rounds. They have names like “Dr. Blue” and “Dr. Pain” and I greet them aloud while explaining to anyone else in the room that “it’s okay, I’m only hallucinating.”

She comes whenever she can get a ride to the hospital, sometimes after school, always on weekends. Always on Saturdays. I never think to wonder why they let her stay after visiting hours on Saturdays. All the same, at 10 pm, we are watching, silently. The Doctor in his ridiculous scarf, asking if we care for a jelly baby. K-9 wagging his robotic tail. Standing stones that are really silicone based life forms.

It turns out they let her stay as a dying teen perk. When I finally wasn’t technically dying anymore they had to let the policy stand to avoid tipping me off. It took me a long, long time to figure that out.

Before I left the hospital, they had to wean me off the morphine. They took her aside and warned her, as my best friend, to keep me away from hard drugs in high school. They’d apparently given me so much morphine to keep me out of pain, thinking I wasn’t going to make it, that I’d been hardcore addicted without knowing it. The sleepless nights and nausea and pain I went through for weeks and had thought was part of the healing was actually withdrawal.

She listened and watched over me like a mother hen. Steered me clear of a lot of the “good” parties. Always made sure I got to sit in the front seat. Fourteen years later, she insists on sitting in the truck bed on our way to the Bowie Reality Tour so I can sit up front with her boyfriend, who is driving, and sit in the “safe” seat. Twenty five years later now, and we are getting a ride home from Club Congress and she won’t let us leave until I buckle my seatbelt.

When I watch Dr. Who with my 12 year old now, it isn’t the same. The production values are too high. It feels like cheating. Her best friend doesn’t like the show. She lives two states away now. But every weekend, they video chat for hours, not talking, just co-existing, sometimes falling asleep to the sound of each other’s long distance snoring.

Sunday after the omelettes and before the music…

New friends and old ones newly met are mirrors as much as input mechanisms. They serve to remind us who we are and where wish we were headed. 

A sort of course correction in the journey. And of course we do the same for them. And somewhere in the exchange, we each add a little bit more to our collective portfolio of experience  from each side of the equation. Gender rules and social norms be damned, by the way. I need no one’s permission to associate.

For those who might express concern or dismay at my Magdalen ways.

I am raising my children to be worthwhile human beings, but also worthwhile companions. Or so I hope to achieve. Rich input.

Interesting people and places and things. Sights and sounds. Shared jokes and observations. I think I am likely raising the ultimate well rounded hipster nerd queens in waiting.

Such a fucking hipster am I, myself, with my burgundy plaid and velvet slippers, leather jacket and Dr. Who scarf and shredded skinny jeans.

I am writing this on a typewriter app on my iPad right now is how hipster I am.

…And listening to vintage punk and New Wave tracks on Spotify. Mission of Burma and Johnny Thunders and The Nerves, The Waterboys, The Buzzcokcs, etc.

Rich input on a lazy Sunday, good food and old bookstores, family, friends, and songs to be sung until we are breathless and dizzy and full of hope.

Chaos, Faith and Ice Cream

Chaos, Faith and Ice Cream…

Some days the stress builds up in the back of your neck faster than you can breathe it out, faster than you can imagine ways in which everything will work out in the end.

Those of us whose strength is creating calm and stability can’t always stave the tide of chaos and panic that radiate from those around us.

Sometimes it knocks us down and we have to fight to gain the strength to rise back up.

You can’t make people have faith. But you can be a constant reminder of it. Faith in humanity or progress or the idea that life is ultimately more interesting than a lack thereof.

Ice cream, good music, and things that smell good are all fantastic aids in the faith restoration department.