Waiting for United

Today’s the day. This morning I’m flying to D.C. from Greenville, the boyfriend and I are doing some sightseeing this afternoon, and tomorrow we fly to Japan. I’m so excited I can hardly stand it.

I’ve yet to decide what I want to do in D.C.–I’ve only been once, and all I remember is seeing the Spirit of St. Louis at the Air and Science Museum. I think I remember that because my mother told me this was the plane that Jimmy Stewart flew. (Not Charles Lindbergh, mind you. Jimmy Stewart. Movies are responsible for so much of my knowledge. )

Anyway, following in the steps of another great Jimmy Stewart movie (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington), we’re definitely going to visit all the monuments, but I’ve been informed that it is my decision where we go beyond that. I’m torn. I want to visit museums (the AU art museum has an exhibit of ceramics by contemporary Japanese women that I’m interested in, Night at the Museum made me want to visit the Museum of Natural History, I’ve been told I shouldn’t miss the Holocaust Museum (that would provide such an interesting intersection of WW2 history, since our during our time in Japan we’ll be attending memorial services for the anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings.)  I also hope we have time to wander around Georgetown, and I’d love to visit the Folger Shakespeare library. Unfortunately, we’re going to be in D.C. less than 24 hours, so I think we’re going to have to skip some things.

My flight has been delayed about an hour. After rushing pretty much every minute for the last week (getting up to date at work, packing, cleaning, last minute shopping, getting my life in order to abandon it for two weeks), the leisure to sit and stare is… well, kind of difficult. I’m sleepy and anxious.

There’s something about waiting in an airport that makes you so very aware of the passage (or stagnation) of time. I did quite a bit of research during the fall and spring semesters with Judith/Jack Halberstam’s book  In a Queer Time and Place: Transgendered Bodies, Subcultural Lives. Amazing book–ze articulates the uneasy relationship between how we feel about time and capitalism in the introduction: “We imagine that our time is our own, …[and] that there is a time and a place for everything. These formulaic responses to time produce emotional and even physical responses to different kinds of time, therefore people feel guilty about leisure, frustrated by waiting, satisfied by punctuality, and so on….”  I’m a little frustrated by the waiting at the moment.

On a lighter note, Jasper Fforde discusses the passage of time in one of his Thursday Next novels. Thursday is learning the policies of the ChronoGuard from her father, a rogue ChronoGuard agent (the ChronoGuard is charged with protecting the temporal stability). He says that whenever they have a lump of time that they need to get rid of (Fforde puts it ever so much more elegantly), they dump it in a doctor’s office waiting room or an airport. People always feel like time moves more slowly there, so they don’t notice when it really is crawling.

I think that is just a fictionalized illustration of what Halberstam is talking about–it’s not the time that is different,or more or less important, or moving faster or slower…it’s all our perception. Which is kind of a basic idea, but when we connect that idea with an investigation into why we feel validated by being on time, and frustrated at waiting, it is at least conceivable that we’ve just completely imbibed the capitalistic preoccupation with productivity. We’re annoyed when we are prevented from producing, because this is how we rate ourselves and our position in society.

At least, that’s what I’m pondering on this Thursday morning.

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