what are your befores and afters?

in celebration of july 31, the anniversary of the day my husband and i got married, this week’s blog posts will be about the ways we mark the passage of time.

lately, i am thinking about the eras in our lives, the ways we measure our "befores" and our "afters."

global standards dictate that the timeline of human history is measured in b.c. and a.d.--or sometimes b.c.e. and c.e.  but i'm more interested in how each of personally marks time.

my memories tend to get automatically passed through the "before daddy died" and  "after daddy died" filter.  i reckon that could sound morbid, but i'm guessing i'm not the only one who has discovered that one of those "before-and-after-death-of-loved-one" filters got installed in my brain without my realizing it.  

i also have the "before baby was born" and "after baby was born" measure, "when i was in chicago" marker, a "when i could still eat gluten" and "gluten-free era" label, and a "when i was in the green/blue/yellow bedroom" filter from the musical bedrooms me and my siblings played growing up.

when i'm writing or performing a character, i often try to identify a moment in which things change for that character.  now i'm curious to think about characters in terms of their "befores" and "afters," the filters through which they catalogue their lives, the ways in which they mark time.

so, you can help me write stronger characters.  let me know:  what are the "befores" and "afters" that mark time in your life?


  1. Mine are all marked by moves. There's prior to current home-state (which is divided into college-state and origin-state). Current state period is further divided by parts of town: When I lived in NR (prior to bf & with bf-now husband) and When I lived in G. I know my g'ma died while I lived in NR, with bf. I know my g'pa died while I lived in college-state, but was in origin-state on summer break.

    Oddly, I divide up time in origin-state by what school I was at (the IH time, the Glenbrook year, the hellish period that was Forest Park and Central...) and I divide up college by who I was dating. A little strange, and I'm not sure I want to know what that says about me.

  2. Moving and living places is true, but they all look alike. Before college and after college. Here, I have been 17 years so it's more like before the new shop, before the economy tanked, when I ran with a certain art crowd, got out of it and wondered if I would care. I am doing better art without them. Near death experiences always make things REALLY CLEAR. But soon, you forget the clarity they caused. I do think time is going faster now. Days fly, weekends are quickly gone, like the pendulym has sped up. I am busy and enjoying life but also aware how fast time is passing. I do think finding your definition of death will help character development. It's not morbid to me. I could do a whole essay on this. Maybe I will and email it to you......I have thought alot about this era of life. It's when you can no longer double your age and expect to be on earth in a body.

  3. Along with living locations, I mark time according to before and after chronic illness and injuries. I definitely mark time as before-therapy and after-therapy and even specify which therapist. Of course, the best one is before-Roger and with-Roger, because I'm dying first.

  4. Since most of my life has been measured by my time spent working....I tend to refer to life "while I was in retail pharmacy" and life "since I left retail"......My advice to others.....DO NOT allow your life to be measured by your career!!