stole my time
by lavinia plonka
youre reading this, there are over 2 million Americans who claim
to have had an alien abduction experience. A booming industry of abduction
specialists ranging from psychotherapists to documentary producers is
chasing after space ships in hope of a bit of terrestrial profit. Im
of all, many of these people claim to have had lurid and bizarre experiments
performed upon them by beings who terrified them, brainwashed them and
then sent them back with a message of love. It sounds so much like growing
up in the 1950s that I wonder if our parents were aliens in disguise.
Think about it. Each family was like its own insane laboratory where
the parents were desperately experimenting with how to adjust to a radically
changing society. Experiments, brainwashing and a message of love. So
now theres all these people re-creating the same confusion in
a spaceship somewhere. I had kind of hoped the aliens would show up
with something new.
at least show up. I remember being so sure that I couldnt possibly
be a member of my family, or even the human race. Me, of the same genus
as the Nazis? As Atilla the Hun? As Sister Giovanni, my dreaded third
grade teacher? Not possible. I must be an alien. I would sit on the
back stairs of my house and wait. I would talk to the sky. I would write
long letters to the aliens and try to send them by pressing them to
my head. But I was never chosen.
a lot of these abduction specialists say that many of us HAVE been abducted,
and just dont remember. That the aliens inject you with some sort
of amnesia drug so that you dont remember the trauma. Some have
even said that weve ALL been abducted at one point or another.
Maybe thats why I have these recurring dreams of talking to the
Pope. Maybe he and I were abducted at the same time. The Pope and I
whiled away the time in the space ship waiting room sitting alongside
Martha Stewart and a janitor from East LA.
I love coming here. Its where I get my best ideas. Your
Eminence, dont you think, for the holidays, the Vatican would
look adorable in some wired winterberry wreathes dipped in gold?
I knew this was going to happen. Every time I go to Beverly Hills
I get lost.
go on the Web to read more about alien abductions. Theres so much
information out there, I begin to wonder if the Internet is run by aliens.
Fortunately, there is a survey available that you can fill out to find
out if youve been abducted. Have you ever seen a UFO? No. Have
you ever been aboard an alien space ship? No. So far Im good.
But then it asks if I have any kind of anxiety about seeing aliens.
And suddenly I remember.....
at the New Jersey shore, a surreal adventure on any day. The boardwalk
is always crammed with screaming families, giddy teens with multiple
piercings, big haired women crammed into revealing leopard tank tops
teetering on spiked mules, and barrel-chested men sporting elaborate
gold chains, talking about hockey as if it was a life and death issue.
These, however, are not the aliens.
are everywhere. Huge blow up alien dolls hang suspended from the indoor
arcade, a grand prize for a lucky video game winner. Stuffed little
green-man prizes line several boardwalk games. A family plays, betting
on the number two. It lands on one. The father shrugs. The son begins
to shriek and stamp his feet. I want my alien! I want my alien!
another booth, the alien dolls wear human clothing. One of them is even
dressed in a long white wedding dress with a veil. I start twitching.
My sister asks me what my problem is. Its a conspiracy,
I blurt. See, they sell these cute, cuddly little aliens to the
children, who take them to bed. Then when the aliens show up a few years
later, these kids are adults and remember them fondly from warm, fuzzy
bedtimes. And they marry the aliens! Dont you see?
sister quickly drags me to the nearest bar stool to help me forget my
I return to the survey. Did you ever experience a period of time
while awake where you could not remember what you had done during that
period of time?
Uh oh. Lately, whole chunks of my day have been evaporating.
go downstairs and stare into space for a moment trying to remember whether
I came downstairs for lunch, to do the laundry, or to finish painting
the living room ceiling, which I had begun three years before. Then
the next thing I know, its dinner time. Or I go to make a phone
call and suddenly its time to go to bed. I had been blaming it
on encroaching senility, or the perils of the self-employed.
no! Thats not it! Im being abducted. Almost daily. This
must be what is happening. Just at the moment that Im about to
undertake an unpleasant task, the aliens, sensing my confusion, seize
the opportunity to whisk me away, conduct unspeakable experiments on
me, drug me with the amnesia drug and send me back to my computer terminal
where I stare and realize that I havent written a single word
now its OK because I no longer have to accuse myself of being
spaced out, I can say Ive been in space. The aliens have obviously
stolen my time. Now, when I show up a half hour late for an appointment,
I can simply say, Im really sorry Im late, I got abducted
again. Job not done? Oh well, not my faultits those
the whole alien phenomenon be a creation of the contemporary psyche
to help us deal with an unmanageable world? Companies keep downsizing
and we watch our co-workers disappear. Theyve installed computer
terminals at the treadmill at the gym so that I can work while I work
out. And I dont even want to work out because Im so tired.
There are 4000 projects around the house that get started and never
seem to get done. Im torn between everything from political party
fundraisers to changing my windshield wipers to helping out at the grammar
schools Craft Fair and Pumpkin Decorating contest.
everything falling apart, how comforting to think that its not
my fault. That some malevolent force is out there stealing my time,
memory, and energy, plus telling me to go out there and love in a world
gone mad. At cocktail parties (that I didnt want to attend) I
can say Im in therapy because of an alien abduction experience
instead of obsessive compulsive disorder. It would make me more interesting
to bootinstead of talking about 401K SEPs or treasury bonds, I
could start talking about the white light, the bizarre apparatus they
snaked up my nose, my conversation with the Pope. Soon, everyone would
start to confess their own lost hours, sense of disorientation, lack
of motivation. After a couple of martinis, we might even recognize each
other from the space ship.
the aliens are here to save us. By blaming them for our inability to
be workaholic superheroes, we can begin to go back to the important
things in life....staring into space, dawdling over a meal. We can cut
back on obligatory, unnecessary crap that fills up our lives - Ever
since I was abducted, I just cant enjoy working out at the gym
anymore, the machines, you know, remind me of....the experiments,
or Im sorry, I just cant get to that office cocktail
party. Im having an abduction flashback and Im afraid I
might have a nosebleed or a seizure. It would be a mess.
I tally up my answers to the survey, it says that my total score has
a suspicious number of 'yes' answers and that I should investigate further
the possibility that I have been abducted. Thats good enough for
me. Im going to go sit down and stare at the falling leaves outside
my window for a while.
not sitting out back waiting for the Mother Ship, Lavinia
directs the Asheville Movement Center where she teaches The Feldenkrais
Method® as well as offering classes and workshops in a variety of
disciplines to help everyone to be as flexible as possible for whatever
surprises are in store on this great planet. [ laviniaplonka.com