Sunday, November 18, 2018

A page from the Book of Imaginary Beings

Not a chronophage, but a beetle of unknown
provenance. Still, this is how I imagine them.
My office is infested with chronophages. Creatures that gnaw at my calendar, leaving it, and me, a shell.  It's rather like the mouse that found the remains of the Halloween candy I had stored on the shelf in my office, and ate the one remaining Milky Way bar, leaving behind (a) all the Skittles and (b) a nearly intact wrapper.  I hadn't even realized it was empty until I picked it up. (And what does this tell me about Skittles, if even the mouse eschews them?)

The surest sign of this infestation is that while my to-do list and appointments list grow exponentially longer, time remains unrelentingly inelastic.

I'm quite sure the phages got in through my email. Every time I opened it up, there were more requests for my time. Which will take me some time to find some time for, eating time long before they land on the calendar.  They slip between pages of papers on my desk.  I'm sure I saw one fall out when I picked up that folder of problem sets to grade. Once loose in my office, they rapidly spread to the phone, laying eggs in my voice mail.  A few lurk just outside my door, hitching a ride on my teaching bag should I be so careless as to set it down.

I fear that I might have transported them home, as I scoured the calendar for a 2-hour block to go grocery shopping for the impending holiday.  Not here, dishwasher being delivered — maybe. Not there, evening event.

The plague of chronophages is insidious. None of the requests in my email, or knocks at my door are unreasonable, nor is anyone asking who I would not wish to accommodate.  As they say about traffic on the radio, the problem is volume. Sheer volume.

I've been reading Caspar Hendersen's "The Book of Barely Imagined Beings" -- a modern bestiary, which lends itself to dipping in and out, and will wait patiently until I can return to its pages. Which led to my seeing these barely there imaginary beings in the corners of my office. For the in-class writing exercise last Thursday, I asked my students to describe one of their internal writing companions: the Editor, the Distractor, the Coach, the Cheerleader and the Taskbeing. It makes me wonder who I should queue up to deal with the phages?  Could I send the Distractor? Would it be like matter and antimatter?


  1. And yet, you make time to post your reflections. I'm so inspired? envious? Chronophages -- I love learning new words! This one is so apt. I am re-reading your reflection on Advent, published in Give Us This Day, December 2018. May you have a blessed "Way-Finding Time." Doris

  2. This word is of my own invention...but I'm enjoying using it. Humor definitely helps right now, as the "way finding time" approaches!