November 1, 2002

Time

One morning I disabled all the clocks in my apartment. There were three: the alarm clock, the clock over the refrigerator, and the clock function in my computer.

To disable the alarm clock, I simply removed the battery, keeping the clock facedown to avoid seeing the time.

The kitchen clock proved more difficult because I had to remove it from the wall without noting the position of its hands. To manage this I first squinted at the clock to fix its location, then reached up, head averted, and lifted it from its nail.

The computer clock was the hardest since the time appears in the upper right-hand corner of the screen and is difficult to avoid seeing. My solution was to keep my left hand over the time while mousing with my right. After changing the appropriate control panel setting, I restarted the computer to make sure it had taken. Sadly it hadn’t, and it was then that I saw the time for the first time this day: 9:59 a.m.

Earlier I left a message for a friend, asking if she was free for dinner. “It’s Friday morning,” I said, and as I was about to add the time, I realized I didn’t know what it was. Later (was it an hour later? two?) I ate a peanut butter and banana sandwich, though I knew it was long before my usual lunch time. Then I biked around town, doing errands. A few blocks from the library I noticed a big clock on a black pole in front of a shoe store. I tried not to see the position of the hands, but it was too late: 2:05.

Soon after I returned home, my friend called back, and I told her about my day. She offered to meet me at my apartment that night instead of the restaurant, since I couldn’t commit to a specific time.

Naturally we spent the rest of the conversation talking about time. Nothing brings a thing into focus like an attempt to obscure it.