The time is out of joint

Yesterday I wanted to write a short story. However, I am writing it today. Even though I am as busy today as I was busy yesterday, doing the same tasks. Time is out of joint. This is what I said to myself yesterday as I walked from home to campus in the morning. I had woken up at 6 and left at 11:45 and there are exactly four hours I can not account for. I remember neither using nor  wasting them. I usually tell stories to myself  as I walk to university on rainy days, since it will be difficult to read my self stories as I usually do, because paper gets wet under the rain. I told myself the story of why I can not lay hold on my time any more. I do not think it is teaching. Even though I keep looking forward to the end of the term. In fact I think teaching helped to install a rhythm to what would have been an undifferentiated mass of duration that I can not account for. This rhythm is , however, not in sync with me.  I never got used to measuring life in weeks, and I experience weekends with extreme amusement, as a novelty, when they come each Saturday.  Yet, it is an anchoring rhythm, even though it is out of joint.  Recently every one is talking about accelerated and slow academy, but a few days ago, someone from my home institution picked up the call for slow academy. I wonder how slower can Cairo University get, and laugh. Slow does not mean relaxed, it is as equally draining as accelerated academy. It has taken away some life and imagination and few crumbles of a future. I need to think through and write about the temporalities of academia. One makes time their own, the same way they make place, and call it home, when they know where the light switch is in the dark. I can neither lay my anchors in this space, or back there. My time is out of joint in both. I lost the capacity I had gained in my first year in the UK to know exactly how much life is there in 2 minutes, and how to land close to a deadline after jumping from with a parachute (Isn’t the parachute picture pretty? It comes in Gold and blue). I told myself the story, because I did not want to remember my inability to recall the four hours that I can not account for. This morning I had turned the kettle on, and got the water to boil perhaps three of four times. I remember I laid my blue mug, then drifted to do something else. I boiled the water again, and went to answer some e-mails. I Boiled the water again, flunked a lady grey tea bag after thinking longer than necessary whether to have some caffeine or opt for the non-caffine- trying-too-hard-to-shove-goodness-down-my-throat, organic ginger and a type of honey I do not know of. No, I will take the herbal tea to the office. I methodologically divide the tea bags between home and office, keep the odd tea bag, rip the its packaging open, and flunk the tea bag in my blue mug as the water boils one last time.

It lands as a parachute next to the lady grey tea bag, and one of my selves looks disapprovingly over my shoulder, as the other self looks into the mug in a little disbelief. For what was all that thinking about, if it was to swirl down a drain of mundane absent mindedness…? As these three selves were looking steadily in the empty mug, my very practical self was pouring the boiling water into the blue mug, because it would be ridiculous to boil it again for a fourth or a fifth time, just because one of me(s) is a bit worried about the out of jointness of time.  Out of empathy however, she looks over to the rest of us, and the boiling water overflows. We all bring kitchen towels, wipe the water, burn our tongue as we welcome in the excess water. There is no point of tea now, half of it goes down the drain, and the half filled (half-empty?) blue mug stays by the sink. Three hours later at my desk, in my office, on campus, my tongue rubs against my teeth as it always does when I am stressed. I wonder if I have remembered to brush my teeth this morning. My mind wanders into the the unaccounted hours in which I can not find a route back to recall whether I had remembered or forgot to do the usual things I remember or forget. Eventually , my overthinking, yet absent-at-will mind, orders me to go back home to search for its past selves and bring them to presence. I brisk walk, open the door, check on the windows, the doors, the electricity sockets, the dirty laundry, the water taps. Nothing. I stare at the sink and drink the rest of the tea in the blue mug.

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