Posts Tagged ‘Time’

By Justine Stamper, RMU Student.

Do you know how songs, paintings, or poems can take you back to a place in time or make stevieyou think of a special person? The song “Dreams” by Stevie Nicks, Monet’s “Water Lilies”, and the poem“Comes the Dawn” by Veronica Shoffstall evoke monetfond memories of my friend Fawn. I’ll never forget her impact on my wonder years. I carry it with me to this day; Fawn showed me my dawn.

Growing up, my best friend Chrissy and I had a babysitter, Fawn. She was a senior in high school while we were barely in the sixth grade. Her long blonde hair, minimal makeup, sweet disposition, and laid back approach to life signified her hippie chick lifestyle. Her looks and persona were reminiscent of Stevie Nicks. As a bonus she had a good looking boyfriend who sang in a band, and they would take us anywhere we wanted to go. They were the epitome of cool.

Those summers were spent driving around in a station wagon singing along to the radio blaring, playing miniature golf, or tooling around the Brickyard Mall. Dinner was usually fawn-seth-amandaTaco Bell, where we’d always order Burrito Supremes with extra sour cream. Or Gene and Jude’s for rubber dogs (yes, that’s what they call their hot dogs!)

As I became a teenager, Fawn became less of a babysitter and more of an older sister. As I was growing up, so was Fawn. She became a mother and had gone through losing the love of her life. These losses and challenges made her even more of an old soul.

I would stay with her and her children in her small bohemian apartment, adorned with beaded entryways, dream-catchers, Monet paintings and the smell of incense mixed withfawn cannabis. She gave me solid advice during breakups with my first boyfriend. While we mulled over the dirty details of the breakup, she played Bob Dylan’s, Positively 4th Street.

To further solidify her place as my mentor, she gave me a poem with a heart, cross and an infinity symbol drawn on it. The poem was “Comes the Dawn” by Veronica Shoffstall; it read… “After a while you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul and you learn that love doesn’t mean possession and company doesn’t mean security. And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts and presents aren’t promises
. And you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes ahead
. With chrissy-ithe grace of an adult not the grief of a child. 
And you learn to build your roads on today
. Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans and futures have ways of falling down in mid­flight.
 After awhile you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much. 
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers. And you learn that you really can endure that you really are strong. 
And you really do have worth. 
And you learn and you learn… with every goodbye you learn.”

As the years went by, I remained in touch with Fawn through occasional visits, and now through Facebook. I want to take my daughter to meet her; I’m sure Fawn will get a glimpse of our younger days when she sees my “mini-­me.” I appreciate the advice and support Fawn gave to me. I would love for her to share her life lessons with my daughter; after all it’s my daughter’s dawn now.


By Angela Gutierrez, RMU Student.

After surviving another hectic work week and wrapping up finals, I felt completely frazzled! Worn out, strung out, I needed to find a way to relax. While millions of thoughts ran through my mind, nothing seemed to quite catch my attention. With loads of laundry and house work to do, I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around the idea of doing nothing. DoMainReq I dare schedule an oil change for Saturday at 7a.m? The maintenance light has happily greeted me every time I start ‘old Bessie’ for about a week and a half. That’s not too bad, right? Or should I just get my grocery shopping out of the way? I’ve been meaning to return that ugly Christmas sweater mom got me from Kohl’s.
For sanity’s sake, I decided to wrap myself up in a good book and great cup of tea. As it might not seem like much, it was my own personal moment. Many of us don’t allow ourselves the much needed attention our inner being requires. We’re all too busy with the hustle and bustle of everyday life, often leaving the most important person unattended. Yes, that person is YOU! Many of us are working a full time job. Others are parents busy make-timetending to their children while also juggling work duties. It doesn’t seem like there is much time left after tending to family, work and school. But, if there isn’t time, make time! But, when you treat yourself right, everything else seems to fall right into place.
Go ahead and treat yourself to a pedicure.

Schedule that hour long massage.

Go out to eat.

Catch up on your favorite T.V. show (as long as it’s not KUWTK; that would be a complete waste of time!)

Treat yourself to some retail therapy.

Catch up with a friend at Starbuck’s.

Or, my favorite: Take a nap!

Leave work on time; the work will be there tomorrow.

Hit the gym to burn off some of that negative energy.

Enjoy a long hot shower.

Go for the gold and have two glasses of wine (instead of your modest one.)

Go for a drive.

Catch a movie you’ve been wanting to see.

Take up a hobby, like fishing, knitting, or even writing poetry.

Take the dog for a walk.
With an endless list of possibilities, schedule time for yourself. Sometimes, taking a little bit of “me time” leaves us feeling guilty, but there is nothing wrong in scheduling “me” time. Sometimes half an hour is all you need. A healthy mind needs a healthy soul. Healthy equals happy, so go find your little bit of happiness.

By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty.

I’ve taught thousands of students over my fifteen years of teaching. I’ve forgotten nearly all of their names. If they remember my name, I’d be surprised. I’d rather them remember something I taught them, though I prefer the verb “share” to describe what happens in the classroom because share is the most accurate verb for what teaching encompasses. Teachers share their passion, their intensity, their curiosity, their perspective, and their (frequently groan-worthy) jokes. Teaching is the act of sharing ideas—a wonderfully generous act, and teachers devote their lives to it. Teachers share facts, information, and, ideally, knowledge. How magnificent that ideas are not depleted but expanded through the act of sharing. Ideas are meant to be taken and shared, like bread passed along and across an endless table filled with teachers and learners.

I think about the countless ideas shared with me over the years by my patient, brilliant teachers, my talented, supportive colleagues, and my engaged, enthusiastic students. One of the most fantastic aspects of my teaching career is Teach-New-Conceptsthe time spent with students. What a fantastic way to spend the day, surrounded by unique individuals who challenge and surprise and delight me every day. My students push me to explain myself more clearly, to think from a different perspective; my students bring new, unexpected ideas and experiences to the classroom. My students regularly make me laugh. My students are generous, and I gain an immense amount through knowing them. I elicit book, film, and music recommendations.  Some students have offered even more amazing treasures. An eager student in my literature class created compilation CD’s to accompany his essays on Kafka and Existentialism. One student was inspired by my poetry lessons and wrote a sonnet (a sonnet!). Since college terms move quickly (especially at RMU), the years and students cycle by me at an alarming rate. I will encounter students and assume a year has passed, only to learn they have already finished graduate school. Some things that my students have shared with me in the past have become a part of my courses. One remarkable idea—a gift from a student whose name I have forgotten—continues to inform my teaching and learning: “Progress is success.”

I’m lucky to be a teacher, happy to be a teacher. One of my favorite “games” to play when I was young was “school.” My older sister Theresa pretended to be the teacher while I was the diligent student, listening attentively, working hard. Was that nature or nurture at play? In any case, I have spent the majority of my life happily learning, reading, and writing. I talk to my students about the necessity of investing in themselves. When teachers do all the things that make teaching—that is, sharing ideas—possible, we are investing in the education process. I believe in education as a means of individual and, consequentially, social empowerment.

There is nothing better than a good day teaching. A good day teaching is wildly exhilarating; it is a ride on a luck dragon

“A good day teaching” is about one thing: connectivity. I am overly fond of quotes, especially the simple, beautiful command from E. M. Foster to “only connect.”  A good day teaching is about confluence and culmination and ultimately an arrival at a point of connection between ideas and people that results in insight. This moment of insight sparks a remarkable phenomenon: the student’s face will actually, noticeably light up (and what a lovely light).

“We do not remember days, we remember moments,” says Italian writer Cesare Pavese.  And so it is that “a good day teaching” consists merely of moments. A good day at school has been captured in many inspiring films. I’ve cried watching every one of those films which elevate the classroom experience, but the subtle accomplishments in the excellent documentary The Class reveal a more perfect truth. Extraordinary moments of learning are fleeting, like the sighting of a rare a astonishing bird. In reality, “a good day teaching” entails, perhaps, one brief hour on the luck dragon, the other seven hours  (or more) are spent preparing course materials, reading ancillary documents, researching curriculum, grading assignments, updating course materials, attending meetings, holding office hours, and other necessary aspects of education.  This does not mean that all the other aspects of teaching are drudgery. They are the things that must be done in order to get a ticket for a brief, yet glorious ride.

By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty.

Well, not quite. Stacy is not yet 40. I am headed to celebrate with her, the “youngest” amongst us, in Columbus over Labor Day weekend. Like the youngest in every group, she never lets us forget. I should know; I am the youngest of my siblings, so even though I am not young, per se, I am the youngest, which is still something.

Although I am no longer young, I still feel rather youthful, and I certainly don’t miss youth. So much worry: anxiety and naiveté all wrapped in uncertainty. I do miss the notion of infinite possibility—where would life take me, I wondered? With age, possibilities narrow. Some possibilities are still within reach, some aren’t. “And so it goes,” said Vonnegut. 

As far as getting older is concerned, I tend to hold to the maxim of “it sure beats the alternative.” One of the many wonderful things about aging is the legacy of love shared with others. Many people have been my friends for more than half of my life. My “high school” friends, all of whom I have known since I was 16 (or even earlier), and I have shared tremendous things—a group of us actually went along on Jenny & Brent’s honeymoon trip from Munich up the Rhine via riverboat to Amsterdam! We’ve celebrated accomplishments large and small. More importantly, we were there.

photo (1) 

Memories do not conform to the laws of physics: moments feel like a bazillion years ago and yesterday in the same instant. I recently discovered a photo that I thought no longer existed. It is a picture of Stacy and me; we are 17 in the photo. 23 years have passed, quite impossibly, quite miraculously.

Even if the picture had not reemerged, I would have remembered the moment. The photo is evidence of a particular moment. Countless others went unrecorded, but remain the foundation of over 20 years of friendship. Consider those statistical breakdowns performed to measure how people occupy their time. You know the ones that reveal terrifying truths like the average American spends 34 hours per week watching TV (seriously! My guess was 18) I shall now endeavor to quite unscientifically quantify the time spent with my high school friends, all of whom I still see as often as possible and torment with even more frequency.

Knowing what I know, speculating and hoping and looking back with my most sentimental vision, I’d suggest this might be a fairly accurate representation.


Talking in person                                                                     3 years

Talking on the phone                                                              6 months

Smoking (we’ve nearly all quit)                                              3 months

Mocking each other                                                                3 years

Arguing                                                                                   3 days

Texting                                                                                    1 month

Communicating via Facebook                                                2 months

Communicating via email                                                       6 months

Mocking each other via text, Facebook, or email                   1 year

Going out for Dinner                                                              6 months

Meeting for drinks                                                                  2 years

Spending the night                                                                  1 month

Morning breakfasts at Bitchin’ Kitchen                                  1 month

Having breakfast in each other’s kitchens                              1 month

Watching movies                                                                    1 month

Taking walks                                                                           1 month

Driving around                                                                        6 months

Singing along                                                                          1 year

Road trips                                                                               2 weeks

Spring Breaking in Florida (compulsory for Ohioans)            1 week

Vacationing                                                                             1 month

Tailgating at Ohio State                                                          4 months

Attending Loser Bowls (Browns’ football games)                 4 days

Personalizing t-shirts and hats with inside jokes                    3 days

Acoustic guitar sets                                                                 1 week

Good concerts                                                                         1 week

Bad concerts                                                                           1 month

Bonfire parties                                                                                    6 months

Birthday parties                                                                      2 years

Costume parties                                                                      1 year

Graduation parties                                                                  1 year

Wedding Parties                                                                     6 months

Baby Congratulations                                                             1 month

Divorce parties                                                                        2 days

Contemplating Life’s Great Mysteries                                   the remainder +1


Here’s to looking forward to another 23 years, and another.

By Michael Stelzer Jocks, History Faculty. 


This year it was mulch.

It’s that time of year again.  The time when my wife orders a huge pile of compost and dirt, has it delivered to our front yard and then decides where this fresh earth is needed most.  Of course, all three cubic yards of this will be moved into the ever-expanding vegetable and fruit garden she is constructing.  It began a couple years ago with one raised-bed in our backyard, and now takes up our entire property.  Granted, we live in NE Oak Park, so it is not like we have a huge yard, but covering even such a moderate area in fresh compost/dirt can be quite a chore using only a shovel and a red children’s wagon (we don’t have a wheel-barrel).  It is a physical job; your hands get dirty, your fingers get calloused and your arms and back ache.  Though this doesn’t sound like an enjoyable task, it actually is quite fulfilling.

I think many people love the ‘good’ muscle pain of a hard day’s work. To me however, this job is enjoyable for another reason.  The question I have been asking myself the last week is why?  Why do I enjoy this seemingly mindless chore?  Well, I think I may have a reason.  It’s the ‘natural’ way to work.

In his brilliant 1967 essay “Work, Time-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism”, the English historian E.P. Thompson illustrated how pre-industrial, agricultural work was ‘task oriented’. This was very different from our modern way of working, in which any down time is usually thought to be ‘wasted’.  The modern notion of time really began with the industrial factory where time was to be ‘spent’ specifically and exclusively for production.  Any time ‘spent’ otherwise was time that was lost, and hence, profits. This was new. It was not called the Industrial Revolution for nothing. 

Obviously, most Americans don’t work in factories, but our modern style of labor still is based upon this industrialized ethic.  I learned this at 19 when I worked at a certain, infamous fast-food chain. It was constantly reiterated in that job if you had “time to lean, you had time to clean.” In other words, don’t rest (or think), just work.

As Thompson pointed out, this type of labor was “unnatural” in the sense that humans had never worked in such a structured manner.  Instead, people had always worked based upon ‘task orientation’, which had three major differences to the industrialized method: “First, there (was) a sense in which it (was) more humanly comprehensible than timed labor. The peasant or laborer appear(ed) to attend upon what was an observed necessity. Second, a community in which task-orientation (was) common appear(ed) to show least demarcation between “work” and “life”. Social intercourse and labor (were) intermingled – the working day lengthens or contracts according to the task – and there (was) no great sense of conflict between labor and “passing the time of day”. Third, to men accustomed to labor timed by the clock, this attitude to labor appears to be wasteful and lacking in urgency.”

It must be stated, I am a college professor, and am very lucky in the sense that I am one of the few who still work based largely upon this “task orientation”.  But still, I often don’t have that strangely ecstatic feeling of completing a manual task.  I rarely get the sensation that Stephen Duck wrote about in the eighteenth century:

At length in Rows stands up the well-dry’d Corn,
A grateful Scene, and ready for the Barn.
Our well-pleas’d Master views the Sight with joy,
And we for carrying all our Force employ.
Confusion soon o’er all the Field appears,
And stunning Clamours fill the Workmens Ears;
The Bells, and clashing Whips, alternate sound,
And rattling Waggons thunder o’er the Ground.
The Wheat got in, the Pease, and other Grain,
Share the same Fate, and soon leave bare the Plain:
In noisy Triumph the last Load moves on,
And loud Huzza’s proclaim the Harvest done.

My labor of moving dirt from one place to another in my small yard is of this nature.  I feel Imagelike proclaiming a “loud Huzza” as I finish this task. 

All this being said, let’s not get too romantic.  The thought of moving dirt from one place to another everyday instead of preparing for my history classes is not very appealing.  But, without such physical tasks I believe I would be missing something intensely human. Even in our labors, the immortal and wise words of the Oracle of Delphi ring true: “In all things moderation.” 

by Paul Gaszak, English Faculty 

While I was growing up and anxiously awaiting my milestone birthdays (16, 18, 21), my mom warned me to slow down and enjoy being young, because “once you get to be an adult, time flies by.” Now that I’m only days away from turning 30 and constantly asking myself where the hell my 20s went, it seems Mom was right.

This is a performance of the turning-30 anthem “My Next Thirty Years” by Phil Vassar. I like his anecdote at the beginning about how the music executives told him that “No one wants to hear about turning 30.”

Since I turned 21, when I was finishing college and starting my first full-time job, Father Time has stomped on the accelerator. Events that seem so recent are now years in the rearview mirror. My first quarter teaching at RMU seems so fresh in my memory that every night I still print out Mapquest directions to campus, lay out my finest suit, and go to bed worrying about whether or not everyone will like me. I can probably stop, though, because it was over 5 ½ years that I started working here: I know the way, I don’t fit in that suit anymore, and I know no one likes me.

If time keeps moving like this, I will soon be 80 and incorrectly telling my grandchildren (or my lab-created genetic clones), “It seems like just yesterday that I graduated from college, but that was 74 years ago!”

So, in short, I’d like to thank my mother for opening my eyes to the depressing Yeager-like rapidity of adulthood.

(Just kidding, Ma. Love ya!)

However, while reflecting on the past decade of my life, I see all that has happened to me – and the world around me – and find that this sonic speed is an illusion. Things haven’t moved fast at all. It has been a long road for me these past 10 years, which has included:

  • Studying at multiple universities and earning multiple degrees.
  • Becoming a university professor.
  • Feeling weird calling myself a “professor.”
  • Becoming a homeowner.
  • Running for Congress.
  • Becoming an uncle, twice. And a Godfather.
  • Lying about running for Congress.
  • Maintaining a (now closed) personal blog for over five years and 350,000 words.
  • Writing tons of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.
  • Trying to impress women by referring to myself as “a writer.”
  • Having no success impressing anyone.

A lot of things happen in ten years for all of us. Any of us could write a monumentally long list of things we’ve done and been through in the past ten years. But what creates the illusion that time is moving so fast? For an interesting look at why time seems to fly, check out this article (with videos and audio) over at NPR.

And while you do that, “I think I’ll take a moment to celebrate my age. The ending of an era and the turning of a page. Now it’s time to focus  in on where I go from here. Lord have mercy on my next thirty years.”

By Jenny Jocks Stelzer, English Faculty.

So, there’s this lovely couple that comes into the Y when I’m leaving my spin class at 7am.

(Yes, I said “leaving at 7. A.M.” I get up and I work out VERY early in the morning. Yes, it’s crazy. No, wait, it’s not crazy. What I mean to say is that I like to be out in the morning. Things are slower in the morning. Calmer. Quieter.)

Anyways, so this couple. They are adorable in so many ways. First, they have to be about 100 years old. Also, they are tiny and wear the coolest clothes ever.

(Wait, am I being totally condescending? I mean to say that it is AMAZING that they are 100 and still hitting the gym at 7am and that they are way more fashionable than me and most people I know in that they wear classic, worn coats, he wears a brown golf cap and she wears this beautiful scarf.)

Okay, so there is this totally cool older couple, and, at 7am they walk down the stairs at the Y. This matters because at 7am I am racing down those stairs to get dressed and rush to work. I pause and try to be patient while these folks make their way down with deliberation.

(What I mean to say is that this is not because they are infirm, but because they are taking their time. I must admit that I have been known to skip past them a few times with a little irritation. Why do we always want everyone else to move at our pace? Why do I use “we” when I really mean “I”? It just makes me feel better about being jerky sometimes, I guess.)

Well, so this couple meanders their way down the stairs to the locker room doors, which, until very recently, had these locks with keys that were difficult to make work much of the time. Every morning when we get to the Y, a few of us who know each other quite well say a quick hello and exchange a few complaints about the difficulty of the lock on the locker room door, which, easily, takes 30-45 seconds of our valuable time. Why, we ask, doesn’t the Y get its act together and give us keys that work? After all, we are busy people, here! Then, we rush off to our workouts.

(Why do I say “we” when I mean “they”? I mean, it really isn’t that big of a deal to take a few extra seconds to get into the locker room and, frankly, the YMCA is a charitable, not-for-profit organization, whose totally adequate facilities we get to use relatively inexpensively, not some fancy health club that we pay a bunch of money to that can spring for new keys to their eucalyptus-scented locker rooms any old day. Plus, 5am is WAY too early to start complaining. Come on, people! Hmmm, I suppose saying “we” when I mean “they” makes me feel a little less dickish when I rant about my friends.)

So, today, after our group starts the morning together with our suspicions that the brand new key-cards probably won’t even work (they worked fine), I get out of spin class and head down the stairs. Today I decided to take my time and walk patiently behind the couple.

(After all, the slow, calm quiet is what I like about the morning.)

The couple and I get to the locker room doors and the woman takes out her key-card. Her husband stops to make sure she gets in. They both smile when the key-card works and she looks over at him and says “Thank you,” with a smile and absolute sincerity. He says “You’re welcome,” with a smile and a pat on her shoulder. The whole exchange took about 30-45 seconds. My first thought was “Oh! I thought they were married!” My second thought was “Wait a minute, why can’t they be married AND considerate of each other at the same time?” Intimacy seems, sometimes, to allow for terse, efficient interactions often focused on complaints or irritations. We’re all busy and in a big hurry and those with whom we’re intimate with understand that the most.

When I stop to think about it, THAT is what makes that couple adorable. They actually take their time, and they actually say what they mean.

By Michael Stelzer Jocks, History Faculty

When I discuss urban living with my students, and ask them to compare city living to small-town living, they usually point out the fact that city living is more violent, cold and impersonal than village life.  Now, for people growing up in Chicago, ‘small town’ has a pretty wide range of meanings.  A ‘small town’ for today’s Chicagoans might be anything from a tiny rural community to a major suburb.   To put things into perspective, in 1790, the largest city in the nascent United States was Philadelphia with 42,000 people.  To Chicagoans today, 42,000 people is a single neighborhood, and the fact that social critics in the early Republic crowed about the immorality, the corruption, and bustle of 18th century Philly seems laughable and naïve.

 The question then: Is city life really colder than small town life, or is this just a widely accepted myth?  I actually think it is true, though I think the reason for this is different from what most people believe.  Students usually point to the anonymity of urban living as the reason for the lack of fellow-feeling.  The number of people living in a crowded area seems like the obvious reason, and throughout history, this impersonality has often been pointed out as a source of heartlessness.  Add this to corruption, disease, and poverty, and perhaps it is no wonder that American politicians have often pointed to the city as the center of sin.  Famously anti-urban Thomas Jefferson said “I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries as long as they are chiefly agricultural….”

 Urban cruelty seems most obvious when fellow citizens in need are simply ignored. Everyone has heard the stories about city-dwellers paying no mind to people lying on the street, and instead, stepping over those that requires assistance.  These are stories you don’t usually associate with small towns.  Why is it so different in the big city?

Anonymity is important, but I think just as central is our modern obsession with time.  Time is our most ‘valuable commodity’.  We live in a fast-paced world, which gets faster every day.  The linguist George Lakoff displayed the centrality of time to American’s thirty years ago, by studying the many metaphors we have equating time and money.  Think about all the instances in which you automatically link time and money in your speech: “You wasted my time.” “How do you spend your time?” “Invest some time in me.”

A forty year old study conducted by two psychologists at Princeton University, C.D. Bateson and J.M. Darley, displays how our concern with time can affect our ethical behavior. The two psychologists invited 40 seminary students to present a lecture on the New Testament story of the ‘Good Samaritan’.  The catch was the graduate students had to present this lecture on the far end of their campus.  For some of these students, they were informed they had a great deal of time to get to the lecture hall (low hurry).  A second group (medium hurry) were informed they had to rush to get there on time; lastly, a third group (high hurry) were told they were already late, but still had to conduct the lecture.  Little did these students know, the experiment was actually to see if they would help a stranger in need.

On the way across campus, each student crossed paths with an anonymous man in physical distress. As students well versed in Judeo-Christian ethics, you may expect that they would stop and help the man. Unfortunately, you would be wrong.  63% of the students in ‘low hurry’ group helped the man; 45% in ‘medium hurry’ helped; only 10% in ‘high hurry’ helped.  This was, and still is, a shocking finding.  Even for intelligent, ‘morally educated’, ‘good’ people, the strain of time can cause them to be unethical.

Forty years have now passed since this experiment, and to say that our pace of life has quickened would be an understatement.  We now live in a world in which speed is not just a luxury, it is an absolute necessity. Speed is virtue, and patience is a waste.  In the big city, this is truer than ever, and studies now show that the bigger the city, the faster the pace of life. Unfortunately, with this quickened pace, the “Good Samaritan” seem to be an endangered species.