Doing the Time Warp at 2 a.m.



It’s astounding.
Time is fleeting.
Madness takes its toll.

Oh, look. I’ve gone from a pleasant dream to mid-thought in a second. I’m suddenly wide awake, Time Warp from The Rocky Horror Picture Show running through my head.

I remember doing the Time Warp,
Drinking those moments when
The blackness would hit me
And the void would be calling
Let’s do the Time Warp again…

It happened the night before, too. If the pattern holds, my mind will start racing through random thoughts mixed with snatches of songs until I land on some unfinished work and feel anxious, head spinning, heart pounding.

Head over heart, heart over pelvis.

Pay attention to the way you stand. Stack the bones for a firm foundation.

Why am I cycling through Yoga with Adriene now? I’d agreed to try daily yoga exercises for the month of January with a group of women more motivated than I. I didn’t get very far; I think I did two days, spread over a week. The dogs were distressed, and my daughter was afraid I’d fallen and couldn’t get up. I wasn’t terribly stable. I was scaring those around me.


Take your time. Pay attention to the way you breathe. When you inhale, feel your abdomen and your rib cage expand in all four directions. Take up space…

Time. Space. This all reminds me that I was supposed to spend the month making art, for fun. But I haven’t really, unless you count some photos I took of moss, or the marzipan flowers I made with my daughter for the cupcakes to help take her mind off looming events, or the conversations with various friends about music.

Those probably don’t count.

Hey, there’s that unfinished work.

God, I need to sleep.

Hey, God. Hey. I need to sleep.

I reach into my bedside drawer to fish around quietly for a rosary. My grandma taught me long ago, when she would visit and we’d have to share a bed and she smelled pleasantly of talcum powder and yarn, that the best way to bore yourself to sleep is by starting a rosary. My hand finds some cool, smooth beads, and I slide it out.

It’s broken.

I wonder how that works. The rosary leads you around in a predictable circle, reciting rote prayers while reflecting (or attempting to) on a portion of Christ’s life. Christ’s life, written in the stones of the Stations of the Cross, on cathedral walls, in museums. It’s the same. It’s a circle. Birth, death, birth. Repeat. But what if it’s broken? What if the end doesn’t come back to the beginning in a stable, but is able to spiral through time, Kairos time instead of Chronos? What if it reached…all the way here?

Let’s do the Time Warp again….

Hey there, random song snatches.


 It’s just a jump to the left

I remember the summer I learned to do the Time Warp. I was maybe 5 or 6, and tagged along on a marching band field trip. The high schoolers thought I was so cute,

And then a step to the riiiiiight

particularly since I obviously didn’t know what I was doing, but was so enthusiastic anyway.

With your hands on your hips,
You bring your knees in tight.
But it’s the pelvic thrust that really drives you insa-a-aaaaane

I had no idea what I was doing.

Head over heart, heart over pelvis.

Thanks, Adriene.

I wonder if my grandmother felt like she knew what she was doing. She looked like she knew what she was doing—and she was most definitely an artist. I am actively trying to sleep under one of her most beautiful works, an afghan of blue, light blue, purple, and brown. She made it for me when I found the watch she thought she’d lost forever—the last gift my grandfather had given her before he died.

Let’s do the time warp again

I wonder if she cried while she crocheted it,

Stack the bones

I wonder if she stitched him back together in her memory, with the watch and the yarn and her shaking arthritic hands and her tears.


Isn’t that what we do, much of the time, with art? What we seek? We hook into the time slip, latch onto a thread of truth, pull it into our here and now, and interpret it through our lens. And when others (or maybe just one other, maybe the One who created us to begin with) can look at it and see it and recognize both something of themselves and something of us in it—that’s a unique connection. That’s a rush. To release that back into time, to leave a marker of this place, this time, this truth, this meeting, and the juxtaposition of them, like dropping a pin on a map–that’s a legacy. That’s taking the ghost of a thought, stacking the bones inside it, and giving it flesh.

Feel yourself expand in all directions

It can happen with an afghan, or a song, or when your four-year-old draws a picture of Heaven complete with grandparents they’ve never met.

Head over heart

I might scare those around me.

Heart over pelvis

I won’t know what I’m doing.

Jump to the left

It will take time, and space, and breath, and truth.

Stack the bones

Tomorrow I will put some flesh on some bones.

Let’s do the Time Warp again.

 (Note: The quotes from Yoga with Adriene are the way my brain remembered them at 2 a.m. They may not be accurate.)

Moss. It’s art. Photo: Mary Bishop

Playing Marco Polo: Naming the Dark in a Season of Light

Photo: Marybeth Bishop



“Polo! Polo! Polo!”

I remember playing this game as a kid. It’s typically a pool game; part of the point is that there is only so much area to cover with your eyes closed. You can cling to the wall, the concrete under your bare toes is solid and gently sloped, and you remember exactly how deep the water gets because it was marked in giant black stenciled numbers along the edge.

We didn’t have a pool, so we played in the lake. In a lake, the boundaries are too distant for young legs to measure. There are slimy-smooth weeds, nibbly fish, leeches, sudden drop-offs, sharp stones and shells, trippy driftwood, and occasional rusty bottle caps. Voices all sound small and distant, competing with wind and waves and wildlife, no comforting concrete to assist with a feeble human version of echolocation. In a lake, Marco Polo can easily lead to doom.


“Do you just want me to move these boxes back out to the garage?”

The question was gentle, not accusatory. My husband was trying to alleviate some of the guilt he could see I was feeling for all of my not-doing. Typically I have the house completely decorated by the first day of Advent, and I have a plan for all of the baking. So. Much. Baking. But here we are, a week before Christmas, and not so much as a shepherd has made it from the Christmas storage boxes to the mantle.

I am not seeing the light.

We’ve had great Christmases, and difficult ones. We’ve had sleepless Christmases, and a few that felt care-free (before kids). But I’ve never experienced one when I really, truly couldn’t see the light.

My eyes work. I can see the candles aflame in the Advent wreath—three of them now, the glow growing stronger. The tree has been up since late November (thanks to my husband and kids), and my husband hung string lights all through the kitchen, living room, and dining room. I see them; they’re beautiful. But I don’t see the light.

Photo: Marybeth Bishop


As if the universe itself needed to drive the point home, earlier this month I posted a picture of my parents kissing on their wedding day. My sister-in-law messaged me quickly, “I think it was February 7th?”

I glanced at my calendar to confirm, then sighed, thinking how exhausted she must be from her recent move, and messaged back, “Today is February 7.” I briefly pictured her forehead-slapping at her error when it dawned on me. I was sitting near the lit-up Christmas tree. My phone was resting on a bright red tablecloth with snowflakes all over it. The calendar I just checked says DECEMBER at the top, with a picture of Scotty dogs and wrapped presents. In my foggy head, I had skipped two months. Two months which include Christmas with all of my kids under the same roof (a rare treat), and our own upcoming anniversary.

A week earlier I’d been sitting on an ornate couch in a small, quiet office.

“So, looking at your symptoms, I would give you a diagnosis of clinical depression.”

There is a long pause. It doesn’t even occur to me that I’m supposed to react at this point.

“Are…you surprised?”

I wasn’t failing to respond because I was shocked. I was just weighing whether the therapist would want to hear either of the things going through my head:

  1. What kind of asshole gets diagnosed with depression during Advent? (Answer: me.
  2. Hearing the words out loud sounded like an official Naming of Things in the Room, like a sick, fallen parody of Adam sizing up Eden. “Lamb. Lion. Fig tree. Serpent. Couch. Depression.”

It seems both contrary and fitting in this season of light to finally give a name to the darkness. I’m sure it’s a first step, or something like that. I’ve gone through this for others, sitting by them on similar couches, many times. I could write myself a how-to pamphlet: It will take time. It will take effort. Therapy plus maybe meds plus hard work plus time will make it better, though it may never go away. Be patient. Keep going. Etc., etc. Yes, I know.

I’m lucky; I have tremendous support, and access to doctors. There are many who do not. In my head I keep going back to those games of Marco Polo, and to my family’s habit of changing the rules of any given game when we got bored. I’m picturing myself back in the Giant Lake with Questionable Motives, calling out “Marco.” But instead of swimming off behind weeds and rocks, reveling in their ability to see hiding places while I fumble around blind, my family and friends answer “Polo” by swimming close, holding my hand, and staying near until I’m able to open my eyes again.

It’s not a bright shining star leading me to a manger, but I trust that those things are still there too because my “Polos” say they are. It will do for now.