May the Fourth Be With You!
Kenny A. Chaffin
All Rights Reserved © 2015 Kenny A. Chaffin
“May 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.
Monday, 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.
Tuesday 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.
Wednesday 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!
By Friday....yes...the fourth...again...I finished the thesis, made copies and distributed it to the committee.
Now 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.
Saturday, 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!
On Sunday the fourth -- which I pretended not to even notice -- I went out for breakfast with friends. We toasted the day, celebrated and I sleep well!
When 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, lines on my forehead and at the corners of my eyes, my hair a bit dull. I thought of calling dad, but what if he wishes me another May the fourth!