Calendar Girl

Anyone who knows me knows that I am time-stupid — or is it more polite to say “temporally challenged?” No, scratch that. I’m not a small child whose sense of specialness needs to be protected, at all costs, from harsh reality. Let’s stick with “time-stupid.”

I can comprehend neither clocks* nor calendars, perhaps due to my difficulties with sequencing and my poor number sense**. Ask me what day it is; then be amused and mildly horrified at my wild guess. How do I know when to arrive or depart? I watch what everyone else is doing. (That, or I just wander off and people either notice or they don’t, depending.) How do I know what day/month/year it is? People tell me. And, invariably, I forget…unless there’s a specific task associated with it, like trash day.

My internal calendar isn’t horizontal and flat. For example, I don’t skip around the year like a token in a board game. I also don’t view it as if looking down at a tabletop. Nor is it vertical and flat, like a picture mounted on a wall. If anything, it’s tilted like a kind of stationary seesaw, or maybe several such seesaws nailed together. My mind sometimes has to climb from one to the next, as if I’m navigating some mad playground structure.***

At other times, I can think about them by tunneling through or beneath them. Because the months are essentially semi-solid colored blocks; they are not as viscous as jelly but they are permeable. That is, it is possible to sink into the center of the blocks as well as to balance atop them, depending on how fast you’re moving. I suppose that makes them Non-Newtonian, after a fashion? They also change form and personality and texture depending on where in the month one finds oneself.

The year begins with May, I assume because it is my birth month. Nevertheless, it ends — for all practical purposes — in the beginning of March, after which there is a sort of two-month-long prelude. I don’t know why I’ve got it in my head like that, I just do. May is a rosy pink: pale and shy and flat at the beginning of the month, swelling to a spherical and shocking magenta at the midpoint, and then subsiding into a cheerful butterfly with dark eye-spots on its wings that coyly wink at you.

June is more or less chartreuse; it is a little spiky and moist like grass, but unfurls into a dome shape that gives off dry heat. It buzzes.

July is cerulean, and sort of semi-upside-down. It’s a bit as if your head tilted back on its axis and got stuck there, and all you can see is what’s directly above you. Which is really what’s below you, if that makes any sense? (It doesn’t especially to me, if that makes it easier to take.)

August is like a tablecloth that hasn’t been smoothed down, and it is bright orange.

September is washed-out persimmon, and coiled like the burner on an electric stovetop. It gives off heat that the body sometimes mistakes for cold, or vice versa—I’ve never been able to figure it out. After a couple of days, it blooms into ochre and then starts decaying into brown. That’s when it gets smaller and turns into a round lump, not unlike a stone.

October is a void, and full of fog. The whole month feels like a veil, slightly mildewed, suddenly ruffled by a brisk passing breeze. Very disorienting.

November is a dark blue woolen overcoat, inside of which is a spry, white-bearded gentleman with craggy features — except that you have to look very carefully for him, because more often than not if he thinks he can do so unnoticed, he dissolves into an icy rain shower or melts into an inky black puddle.

December is fawn-grey; it’s pretty much exactly like a man chasing a stag through a forest with a pack of hounds. And for the most part, it stretches out flat ahead and endlessly in front of you. However, as you’re heading towards the middle, it starts to roll up at the edges like a scroll or a map. By the time you reach the middle, the ends have met and jostled each other like two strangers, and argued briefly before resolving their differences.

January is cholera blue, and looks like glassy ice but feels leathery. Not that you’d ever touch January, because it will leave little stinging cuts on your fingers.

February is the lapis color you see in veins, where they are visible beneath the skin. From certain standpoints, it would seem a painful, acrid crimson; but viewed in normal circumstances, it has the consistency of quicksilver and either absorbs light or else bounces it off. When you peer into it, which you do as if gazing into a pot of water, you feel as if your eyeballs are throbbing and being pulled loose from their sockets.

March is for the most part cold, damp forest green (like the 1940s) but it has this under-layer of loam-black threaded with cobwebs that feel more like the plastic loops that attach price tags to clothing; you can reach down and tousle it, if you’re so inclined, but for the most part it is steep and hilly and you have to run across it to reach April.

April (which doesn’t quite exist) is a liquid-y sunshine yellow, sort of glairy like egg whites but essentially water-based; in terms of clarity, it is transparent — not unlike urine, except it does not smell like urine; it smells more like dry wind.

All of this is by way of explaining why, when someone mentions that something is on such-and-such a date, it literally means nothing to me. (Just as what I have outlined will mean nothing to a lot of people.)

Now that I read it over, I’m sort of fascinated by it: how on earth have I managed all these years, given that my entire system of ordering time and space is completely counter-intuitive and bears no relation whatsoever to anything real?

*You know what’s a really sick joke? Clock math! That’s when you combine time and arithmetic until I start crying. Seriously, it’s the educational equivalent of sawing off both my legs with the skill and bedside manner of a Civil War battlefield surgeon and then saying to me, “Hey, let’s do the Boston Marathon this year!”
**I actually had to undergo an entire day of neuropsychiatric testing when I was in school, either because I was failing math or else because I told a teacher that Ethan Frome straight-out sucked balls. Or, thinking back on it, perhaps it was both. My mom tried to hide the report from me, but my lock-picking skills (which, sadly, were not part of the battery of tests) were such that I quickly found it. It confirmed many of my suspicions, so I was really only upset about the fact that the evaluating shrink made a lot of rude and wholly unscientific marks about my appearance (“physically awkward” was the most polite descriptor) and behavior (I do believe she used the word “bizarre,” and also noted: “makes inappropriate jokes.” What, like suggesting that educational testing is kind of a joke in and of itself?
***I’m maybe the only person on Earth who thinks of Inception as a documentary. Not that there wasn’t a heist movie component to it, but then, a lot of my dreams involve audacious heists. Which I usually pull off without that third act hitch that’s thrown in there to increase the suspense. KISIJT: Keep it simple, international jewel thieves.

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