the fourth be with you! .... And all week long!” My dad said in a
text message on the fourth of May, that silly date celebrated by Star
Wars fans. He knew I had an overwhelming week ahead of me I’m sure
he was trying to lighten the mood. I had to complete my PhD thesis
submission by Friday and there were major holes in its firmament. On
top of that I had a ton of lab work complete in analyzing a new batch
of data from the Maven Mars orbiter, to say nothing of the
day-to-day-to-day goings on as a PhD student.
May the fourth was a good day. I began filling in and patching the
holes in my thesis and the lab work went well for a change. I got the
new data imported and sorted in preparation for analysis.
however was different – very different. It should have been Tuesday
the fifth, but the calendar said Tuesday the fourth. What? It was as
if the calendar had changed. I was confused. Maybe it was the stress.
I thought I’d lost a day or something, it was Tuesday the fourth,
the fourth again, the same as yesterday, same month, same year, same
date -- different day of the week. I checked my phone, my computer,
they all matched. It was really Tuesday May fourth. But this couldn’t
be Ground Hog Day. The day was not repeating, it was a different day
of the week and the work I’d done yesterday was still there on my
computer. It must be the pressure, but I didn’t have time to deal
with it, all I could do was ignore it and press on. Friday was fast
approaching and my thesis committee would not be deterred.
the fourth dawned bright and sunny. I completed filling in and
patching the holes in my thesis. All that was left now was a full
editing and a polishing pass. I couldn’t worry about it still being
the fourth, but it certainly looked like dad was right, the fourth
was going to be with me for a while. On Thursday May the fourth they
dumped a revised set of Mars data on me and I had to start over after
two days of processing. Typical! At least it was still the fourth!
Friday....yes...the fourth...again...I finished the thesis, made
copies and distributed it to the committee.
the only thing left was to defend it in a couple of weeks –
hopefully on the twenty-second not the fourth, but at this point I
wasn’t placing bets.
the fourth arrived and I felt like I could relax for the first time
since I started this journey four years back with all its ups and
downs, twists and turns, politics, rivalries and technicalities. If
things went as planned I’d have my PhD, my promised post-doc job
and be able to continue flinging things into space with hopes of
advancing our knowledge of the cosmos!
Sunday the fourth -- which I pretended not to even notice -- I went
out for breakfast with friends. We toasted the day, celebrated and I
I opened my eyes and saw Monday May the fourth on my phone I was
unimpressed, it had been the fourth every day for the past week. It
was nothing new. Then I noticed the year. It said 2026. What? How
could eleven years have passed as I slept? I jumped up; Ran to the
bathroom. I took a deep look into my eyes – slightly bloodshot
but otherwise normal. I could see subtle changes in my face though,
on my forehead and at the corners of my eyes, my
calling dad, but what if he wishes me another May the fourth!