Auspice marks the day, though it probably shouldn’t. I’m realizing more and more that I seek significance in the mundane all too often—perhaps as a way of reifying that my life has meaning or that the decisions that I make are validated. It is getting harder and harder to figure out when something is actually meaningful or if I’m imposing or superimposing it—and then there is the eternal question as to whether these are the same thing? Do things have autonomous meaning? Maybe? Or is meaning only derived when meaning is shared beyond oneself?
Anyway, here’s what happened: I had thought that I was completely done with my thesis last Monday, but after showing it to Uzi it was clear that a few things still needed to be sorted out. I worked it out, got an awful computer virus, and when I fixed it found I had lost a good deal of progress. Re-fixed the thesis, sent it back to Uzi and waited for approval. And yet this morning, when I woke up, I knew it would be done, that I would get the go-ahead from Uzi, because—here’s the thing—somehow I knew that it was exactly a year ago TODAY that my thesis fieldwork explicitly began. It wasn’t that hard to figure out—it was basically signified through an email I received during the afternoon of April 25, 2007. So that was that. Uzi approved my thesis exactly one year after it began.
It wasn’t like I had some divine revelation saying APRIL 25TH IS A MOMENTOUS DAY or anything. Basically, I had to look up that email sometime last week to cite it properly in my thesis, and it was probably tucked away somewhere in my brain that it happened on the 25th.
Q: Is this momentous/meaningful/auspicious/sacrosanct?
A: Probably not. I look for signifiers in everything. When the official tally for #of pages of my thesis came out as 103, even that felt significant because 103.1 was the radio station I used to listen to in WPB and my thesis is about radio so it seemed apt. But then it shrunk to 102 (thesis, not radio station). I realized the fallacy of my logic.
This is hardly the first time this has happened, and it’s hardly the first time I’ve caught it and wondered if it was unhealthy. Example: In my first middle school my favorite class was taught in room 201. After a semester I had to switch schools despite how much I loved it. Then in CMMS (new school) I again had a class in a rm. 201, and I knew that it was a good omen for the class. And that was my favorite class, if only by comparison to how much everything else sucked. (I also lived in Pei 201 during my first yr of college). Anyway: the fact that I still remember rm 201 seems weird.
I undoubtedly get this at least a little from my grampa. The famous story involves him and my mom sitting in the car, about to drive to then-16-year-old-mom-before-she-was-mom’s school. It was an awards ceremony for some kind of writing competition that my mom had placed in but wasn’t sure which place. Another important part of this story is that my grampa’s car (probably a buick, he only ever drove buicks) had funny windshield wipers—you could never tell if they would work on the first try or not. So: pre-me mom and grampa get into the car [buick]. My grampa says, “Donna, if the windshield wipers start on the first try, it means you won. Otherwise, I’m sorry, but you got 2nd or 3rd prize.” Engine starts. Windshield wipers switch on. Nothing. Grampa says, “well, I’m sorry, but it looks like…” and then all of a sudden the windwhield wipers come on in full force.
They get to awards ceremony. 1st place announced: not mom. But after a moment, woman whispers into announcer’s ear, he says, “there’s been a mistake, the winner is Donna McKible!”
So maybe what I’m really trying to do here is signify on my grampa. I miss him. He used to pick up a deck of playing cards and announce “Queen of Spades!” or “Two of Clubs!” and every now and then when he turned the top card over he’d get lucky.
Back to the 4/25 question: the weird thing is I don’t even believe in cyclical time. Maybe it’s like a straight line, but in a continually upward curve so you can look back and see the bottom but never see the top or even where you’re going next. The important thing, in the end, is that I finished my thesis. That today is 4/25, I think it best to think, is trivial.