“Closing Time” Doesn't Exist

Dear Uptight Seattleite,When the branch library in my neighborhood announces over the PA that it's almost closing time, they go into a ridiculous amount of detail. When the computers will be shut down. When the copy machines will be shut down. When the bathroom is going to be locked. When the garage is going to be locked. The last time I was there, they'd even added a section about when laptop users should start packing up. Can't I, as an adult, be trusted to exit the building in a timely fashion?Patty PatronDear Patty,The challenge is that "closing time" doesn't exist. If you measure time in units small enough, it's always at least a little bit before or after any given hour. And yet this nonexistent moment has the power to cause the library to enter into a state of closed-ness. Librarians prepare our minds to accept this paradox by announcing the locking of the bathrooms and other invisible points on the timeline. Each pre-closing event is like the tolling of a temple bell at the end of the day. But don't miss the note of hope in the announcement—the part where they tell you what time the library will open the next day. The librarians' message here is a simple one: We should remember that the imaginary openings and closings that we travel toward and away from are part of the same cycle. Sunset brings sunrise.They've recently added more details to their announcements because they're getting us ready for August 31, when the library's time-marking services will come to a halt for a week. What they're saying when they tell you to start packing your laptop, Patty, is that budget cuts can never deprive us of our ability to regard time as a mysterious, circular gift from the universe.I hope this helps!Dear Uptight Seattleite,I like to use the word "post," as in "I have to post my letter." It makes me feel all fancy and British. Is that just too pretentious?Kim JDear Kim,Anything that distracts us from the void for a few moments of good cheer is a plus in my book. So I'm in favor of fancy talk of all kinds, be it quacking, Dr. Who dialogue, or getting all thee-ish and thou-ish with the Shakespeare talk. I've found that slipping in phrases like "in the event" also brings distinction to my talkin'. "I considered many different shampoos, but in the event decided to go with baking soda." Did you hear how that phrase gave my sentence a deft little twist there? Even if you're not quite ready to operate at this level, Kim, I hope you will continue to "post" away in good health.Dear Uptight Seattleite,The older I get, the more cultural references I miss. I don't even know what The Hills is (are?). I feel so out of it. What should I do?Geritol GeraldDear GG,Because of the nature of my profession, I must keep my tentacles out for the most forward bits of outside thinking. There's more going on at this particular cosmic junction than I can explain here, but I will say that pessimists underestimate the power of Shamanism. If you'd like to read more for yourself, I can send you a PDF of my favorite URLs. As a non-specialist, though, how much do you really need to know? Ask yourself if you're satisfied with the way you spend your time. Would your life be better if you spent less time gardening and more time surfing for memes? If not, cultivate contentment with your current balance.Dear Uptight Seattleite,A few months ago I was walking along the piers in downtown Seattle, when a man stopped and said he recognized me. He then said I looked like the "guy in the Weekly, the Uptight guy." He asked if I were him and I said, of course, no, I was not, but thank you. Do I really look like a cartoon?Brick ODear Brick O,I really don't want to get into this too much. The weather's far too nice to be stuck inside wandering a Möbius strip of self-reflection. But I do have a brief message for you and any other men who've been told they look like me: Consider it a compliment. Sure, people may not mean it as a compliment, but they can't control what's in your head, can they? As Dean Martin once observed, "Mister, they can't lock you up for what you're thinking." I know I speak for a lot of other nutty thinkers out there when I say thank Goddess for that!Wanna be BUFFs? Find the Uptight on Facebook! Or write to him at uptight@seattleweekly.com.

 
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