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The Worst Transition
I wouldn’t mind change so much if everything stayed the same when it happened. It’s only the differences that bother me. This weekend, the entire world changed. Everyone simultaneously updated their clocks to give the weekend an extra hour. In theory, that sounds great. I’d rather extend a weekend than a Monday. Not that I did anything fun with that extra time. I don’t know what it says about me as a human being that in my entire life I’ve only ever used that bonus hour to sleep. I can’t truly enjoy it, though. As I doze off, I know the hour will someday be cruelly taken away on a future weekend that’s calmly expected by people who actually look at calendars but comes as a complete surprise to me. Worse, regardless of whether clocks are springing forward or falling back, my body is equally disrupted. As biological beings, humans thrive on homeostasis. Disrupting even one variable, like our internal clocks, can cause everything else inside us to spiral out of control. That’s why, when the clocks move, there’s always a spike in heart attacks and spontaneous human combustions. Everyone hates daylight savings time (If you disagree, I’m going to assume you’re imaginary), yet it never stops. I thought the time changes might get easier as my kids got older, but then I made a terrible discovery: I’m getting older, too. My aging body is taking daylight savings time harder than ever. As the clocks fall back, I fall apart.
For one beautiful week a few years ago, it looked like daylight savings time was going away for good. There were news articles that someone in Congress used procedural trickery to get it abolished without going through the normal channels. Then a pro-daylight savings time senator scuttled the whole thing, probably after burning down an orphanage and kicking a few puppies. Why did the world’s greatest supervillain want to keep daylight savings time? Nobody knows, but the imaginary people who insist daylight savings time is a good thing claim it has something to do with sunlight. They want their lives to align with it. I have devastating news for you: It doesn’t matter which way you shift the time; there’s still not enough daylight to go around. Messing with the clock isn’t a dimmer switch for the entire earth. If you prefer more light in the morning or at night, adjust when you wake up. Many people work from home or have flexible schedules, so they’re free to align themselves with that giant fireball in the sky. As for me, I periodically forget that the sun exists. The only light in my life is the comforting glow of screens. I could live on a submarine and never notice the difference.
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As much as I hate to admit it, the transitional time of daylight savings does fit this transitional time of year. (How’s that for a transition?) Halloween is over, Thanksgiving isn’t quite here, and Christmas has already taken over everything. People’s houses could be decorated for any one of three different holidays. At my home, we’re still stuck in Halloween mode. We’ve got thirty pumpkins out front that aren’t quite gross enough yet to feed to the pigs. Until this weekend, we also had a twelve-foot-tall skeleton. Our original plan was to leave it out year-round and decorate it for the seasons. It could have a pilgrim hat for Thanksgiving and a Santa hat for Christmas. For the Fourth of July, we’d give it a machine gun with a chainsaw bayonet. If that doesn’t scream, “Freedom,” it at least says, “Go away.” As for Halloween, we had numerous ideas of what costume to give our boney friend, none of which we implemented. Being a giant skeleton was sort of enough. Also, we’re lazy. That’s when I realized that, if we left it up all year, it would just be a plain skeleton for every other holiday, too. Our skeleton fashion show was never going to happen. Mr. Bones came down Sunday afternoon. His blatant nudity was upsetting the neighbors.
I’m not usually so prompt at keeping up with the calendar. My decorations often stay up well into the next season while my clocks have been wrong for six months at a time. The great thing is eventually the rest of the world realizes its mistake and switches back to match me. This time, though, I had the right time on all the clocks in my house within a few minutes of waking up. It helped that most things updated themselves, although that same feature can sometimes make life confusing. Indiana is too good to have just one time zone. Nothing is more disorienting than when I’m skirting a county border between Central and Eastern Time and I have to figure out if my phone’s clock has already updated or if I’m now an hour off. As always, the best solution is to give up and go home. I can’t be late if I never go anywhere. This morning, I only had to update the clocks on my stove and microwave. All the smart devices took care of themselves, and all of the analog wall clocks have dead batteries and are in this house solely as decorations. Not that we would use those wall clocks if they actually had power. The one in the living room has Roman numerals, which no one has been able to read since the fall of Rome. In fact, those numerals were a big reason why the empire collapsed. The barbarians were furious that everyone had to do math with I’s and V’s. Unfortunately, it was replaced by Common Core.
My kids are as confused as I am this time of year. When they woke up Sunday, they knew the season but not the time. I forgot to warn them about the change before they went to bed. Not that they need me to tell them what’s going on in the world. They have YouTube and memes for that. Then again, those information sources might offer a slightly skewed perspective. My girls have an accurate idea of what’s going on with Russia and Ukraine but a less complete picture when it comes to domestic politics. They’re convinced that the largest internal threats in America right now are Slender Man and haunted animatronic animals at a defunct pizza place. I can’t help my kids with any of that, but I can tell them what time it is—assuming I didn’t accidentally step into a different time zone again. Central Time exists solely to make a fool of me. Not that I need any help doing that on my own.
After the confusion of this weekend, my family is now charging deeper into November, unsure of what time or season it is. Ahead of us lies only chaos. Grandparents are asking for Christmas lists, adult children are making excuses about why they can’t come back for Thanksgiving, and employees are telling their bosses they can’t work any weekday between now and February 3rd. Life would be simpler if we could spread out some of these events. I don’t think there’s anything important in March. Instead, we stacked the Western world’s biggest holidays right on top of each other, and all in the coldest time of the year. That’s only true if you live in the Northern Hemisphere. If you’re in Australia, Christmas is in the middle of summer, which blows my mind. I assume the Aussie version of Santa Claus goes around shirtless and is covered in scars from all the native wildlife that tried to kill him. There’s nothing more distinct than a koala bite mark. To deal with the harsh environment, Santa’s sleigh is pulled by flying crocodiles instead of flying reindeer. Instead of going down your chimney, he kicks in the front door, and instead of presents, he leaves giant spiders you have to kill. Basically, he’s the chief villain in a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Needless to say, Australian Christmas is awesome and I plan to visit the first chance I can get. Save a giant spider for me.
Holiday decorations take longer to change than clocks, but only if you try to keep up. If you give up completely, you can leave up your Christmas lights year round and just turn them on the day after Thanksgiving. There are some classy houses around here that pull that off by having low-profile lights professionally installed. You can’t even notice them the rest of the year unless you really look hard. But for every one of those houses, there are three others that left up their large, super obvious lights year-round just because getting out a ladder a second time is entirely too much work. I respect the lack of effort. If you procrastinate hard enough, late becomes early and then finally on time. Let the repeating seasons work for you. It’s not like your neighbors will judge you any harder if your lights are still up from one year ago or five. Eventually, their opinions of you will hit rock bottom and you can do whatever you want. We reached that point when we got our second pig. I’m still reveling in the freedom.
Our pets don’t have any knowledge of time changes or looming holidays. They get hungry when they get hungry, which is always. My aging dog, Niko, continues to lie to me. He doesn’t bark much anymore, mainly because he can’t hear himself do it. Instead, when it’s dinner time, he’ll come over to me and do a little tap dance. I feed him, and we go our separate ways. A while later, he’ll come up and tap dance again. He wants more food. I know for certain that I already fed him—or did I? I start to doubt my own memories as this twelve-pound dog with a brain the size of a walnut tries to gaslight me. Sometimes it works. The time change is only going to make my double-feeding mistakes more common. I expect him to swell in size in the coming days. He’s living my dream.
The pigs are similarly unimpressed by daylight savings time. They expect me to feed them at the same time as always based on their internal clocks, regardless of what the government says. Pigs aren’t known for their patience. So far, they haven’t rioted, probably because of their bonus holiday food source. In the next few weeks, they’ll get to eat all thirty pumpkins from the front of our house. I’ve already started tossing them over the fence one-by-one as they go bad. By the end of this, an entire pumpkin patch will have passed through each of the pigs’ digestive tracts. That’s the only transition they care about. It’s also the only transition I have to scoop. It still stinks less than daylight savings time.
Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for now. Catch you next time.