And Always at My Back I Hear

I used to read a lot of books.  But then the Internet, and Facebook, and eBay took over, and these days I am lucky if I have time to read a magazine.  I find that there are two great places for magazine reading—on an airplane, and at the hairdressers.  From an experiential standpoint, these two places have a lot in common:  you’re in a limited space where you don’t particularly want to be, for a limited period of time which you don’t have, chit-chatting with strangers you don’t really want to talk to, and when it’s over, you can’t wait to get out of there.  Perfect for magazine reading.  Today it was the beauty salon, where I picked up Vanity Fair while having the gray colored away.

I have always been obsessed with time.  My friends will tell you that I am always late.  No matter when or where I start my day, I am never where I need to be when I need to be there.  Apparently this is at least partially genetic—my mother was congenitally late, and I think that my sister and daughter might have inherited a dilute form of the gene.  But for me, it’s full blown.  I own at least twenty watches, and have never been on time for anything—never—not even once. I read recently that being late is a “control issue”.  That the late person is making a “statement” about their priorities, which means that if a person is late to your meeting, or affair, they don’t really want to be there.  I think that’s a load of hogwash.  I think some people are just late.  But hope springs eternal that if I could just get the right kind of watch, I would improve, be reformed, be ON TIME.

Back to the magazine—in the latest issue of Vanity Fair I came across a full page ad for a brand of watch I had never heard of:  Shinola Watches, made right here in Detroit, USA.  The watch pictured was beautiful—functional and utilitarian, with large numbers, a sweep second hand and a date display.  Just the kind of watch a chronically late person would want.  I came home; I looked up the Shinola watch company on the internet.  It appears that a lot of people think the same way I do—that a new watch will improve their punctuality.  I put myself on the waiting list for two watches, both in a lovely plated rose gold.   I am bad at being on time, but very good at waiting for things that I want.  I will wait for my new Shinola watch.

I must confess here, that my fascination with the new watch company out of Detroit, comes from a distant memory dredged up by that ad—my parents, born in 1925 and 1932 respectively—used that old expression to designate when a person, usually me,  demonstrated a complete lack of common sense:  They would say, “You don’t know shit from Shinola!”  I hope that the Shinola watch company will be so successful that its name becomes a synonym for class, and elegance, and functionality, and for being on time.

In the meantime, Andrew Marvell said it best:  “And always at my back I hear, Time’s winged chariot hurrying near.”  Our time is short, and forever running out.  Let’s use it well, or at the very least, as best we can.

Closing up Shop

They say that as we age, time accelerates.  Those endless waits for summer vacations, Christmas and our birthdays that we experienced at age six, become a mere blink of an eye at age sixty.  And if you’re approaching sixty, you will remember, like I do, those old Kodak commercials:  “Turn around, turn around, turn around and they’re gone.”  Indeed they are.


A few weeks ago I visited a good friend in Arizona.  We were talking about her horse, a beautiful and rare Fell pony that she bought as a two year old stud colt, mahogany bay and full of promise.  She has had very little time to train or ride him, and now gelded, he lives on her small ranch, solitary and unworked.  I asked her, “What are you going to do with Scooby?  He’s six and a half now, and he’s being wasted.  Surely there are people who would love to have him as a riding or driving pony!”  She protested, “There is NO way he could be six years old already!”  I replied, “Oh yes, he most certainly is—I remember driving with my daughter from California to Texas four years ago when she started medical school.  We stopped in to see your new horse. You had just gotten him—he was two and a half. You know she is graduating in two months.”  She was completely taken aback.  How is it possible that four years have gone by this quickly?


Four years ago we came to Texas and looked at condominiums to buy.  Texas is very supportive of its young doctors in training—if you become a homeowner, after one year you qualify to become a state resident, and the cost of attending medical school drops by two thirds.  Texas of course, has that Texan way of thinking—if you live here for a few years, and grow to know and love the state, you won’t ever want to leave.  In many cases, it’s true, and those of us who eventually do leave feel pangs of regret and forever when asked, we say, “I’m from Texas.”  Four years ago, we looked at my parents condominium—empty and unused after they retired and left for the mountains of Aspen, Colorado.  The maintenance costs were too high, and we settled on a nice one bedroom within walking distance from the Texas Medical Center, the Museum District and the live oak shaded avenues around Rice University.  My daughter has loved living here, in this light filled place with her cat perched on the eighth floor windowsill.


My parents’ place is now “under agreement” and I spent the day Thursday sorting through their possessions that remain there.  Today my daughter and I will do the same for her place, and this afternoon we meet with a realtor.  Four years—still a near eternity for her, with the rigors of medical school being what they are.  For me, a mere blink of an eye.