Artist in Residence Quarantine Diaries Episode 5: What time is it?!?

It’s been said that a man with one timepiece knows what time it is (or thinks he does, anyway – and can organise a life around that…) Any multiplication of that, and they will go out of sync, and who knows what time it really is?

Let me count the clocks in our house. In my office, NOT counting the computer, there’s two; one more in theroom next door, one more in the room beyond that. Upstairs – the clock on the stove, three clocks in the living room/dining room area, one in the bedroom, one (three, if you count the computers) in the upstairs office.

I’m inclined to trust the computers because they’re all synced up to a central time and that ought to be the “right” one – but my writstwatch is a couple o fminutes fast, one of the clocks in my office is a couple of minutes slow, and the other one needs a new battery put in (well, even a stopped clock is right twice a day, right, the problem is finding out exactly WHEN…)

But there’s a bunch of time measurements out there. In my house. Are they all measuring the same time? If I start trusitng ONE clock above all others is that an “alternate timeline” where THAT clock is perfect and everything else is out of whatck and time’s out of joint? When I have an appointment (admittedly I have few these days, but…) which clock tells me how late I am for that?

And that’s only the hours and the minutes. We all used to have a routine – my mom, who lives about 40 minutes from me, used to come round to my place every Saturday, and we measured weeks taht way. Saturday to Saturday. But then she got her stroke in January, was hospitalised, went into a rehab recovery home for a couple of weeks, spent a couple o fNASTY weeks at my place recovering from a hospital-acquired germ, and then returned to her own home – but she was and still is convalescing from the January episode and now we have new health issues emerging – the regular Saturday visits have been dead and gone for almost half a year now, then the quarantine and stay-at-home stuff hit and everything ground to a halt, and now I sometimes sturggle to figure out what date it is, what day of the week it is. The only valid time measurement that remains are the bills that keep coming in and when they’re due.

Back when I was very little I once stymied my grandfather by asking him “WHat is time?” he tried to explain with a clock and I said, not what IS THE TIME, what is time, itself. I never got a straight answer. As I grew older, Time became measured by routines and deadlines. Life was measured in doled out segments of that time. An hour was measurable; a week was understood.

And then came Corona Time.

And I’m… just a little… adrift.

(I thought this blog post was due NEXT WEEK. I was reminded that it was not. I scrambled to put it together… in, so to speak, time. But what time is it, anyway…?)


About Alma Alexander

Alma Alexander's life so far has prepared her very well for her chosen career. She was born in a country which no longer exists on the maps, has lived and worked in seven countries on four continents (and in cyberspace!), has climbed mountains, dived in coral reefs, flown small planes, swum with dolphins, touched two-thousand-year-old tiles in a gate out of Babylon. She is a novelist, anthologist and short story writer who currently shares her life between the Pacific Northwest of the USA (where she lives with her husband and two cats) and the wonderful fantasy worlds of her own imagination. You can find out more about Alma on her website (, her Facebook page (, on Twitter ( or at her Patreon page (


Artist in Residence Quarantine Diaries Episode 5: What time is it?!? — 3 Comments

  1. Physicists aren’t even sure what time is — or if it even is a phenomenon in its own right, as opposed to an effect of something else. Does time really flow, or is it something through which we move? Why is time linear and unidirectional?

  2. Thanks, Alma! I share your feeling of being adrift in time. I find I am anchored by my own weekly deadline of writing and posting a blog here. And during the pandemic, I have committed to some other tasks that funnel me toward accountability, lest I drift too far….