My time is vampire time: The critical disability studies concept of "crip time" 📚♿

I’ve seen and heard a lot of people in the Micro.blog community discuss the book Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals. The hold list on this at my library is inordinately long; if I put a hold on it now I might get to read it in 3 - 5 months. So I decided to read the sample of it, to help me decide I’d like to buy it.

As I was reading the introduction, I kept thinking about how my 4000 weeks have a different shape than many other people’s 4000 weeks, different than healthy people’s 4000 weeks. I kept thinking of the concept of “crip time,” which I’d heard but didn’t really understand beyond the concept that time seems to move differently when you’re disabled. This thinking was distracting me from actually reading the book, so I turned to the web to help me get a firmer understanding of “crip time.”

It led me to Ellen Samuels’s essay, Six Ways of Looking at Crip Time, which was exactly what I needed. Samuels quotes Alison Kafer, who says

rather than bend disabled bodies and minds to meet the clock, crip time bends the clock to meet disabled bodies and minds.

I have been trying to bend my body and mind to meet the clock in preparation for starting my postdoc, but I think everyone will be happier if instead I bend the clock to me. My body sometimes needs to be awake at night and asleep during the day. Instead of lying awake in pain trying to fall back asleep while listening to an episode of Star Trek because this is the time when people sleep, I can give myself permission to rearrange my time so the parts of my work that can be done asynchronously (basically everything but meetings, I think) can be done in brief chunks of time in the middle of the night.

This is a positive effect of coming to recognize crip time. (This felt like the right time to stop using quotation marks. I don’t know why.) But Samuels points out the negative elements, which will impact more people than ever before in the wake of COVID. Samuels does this so well that I’m reluctant to attempt to summarize. If you’re interested, I highly recommend reading the essay. For now, I’ll pull out just the bit that inspired this post’s title:

…crip time is vampire time. It’s the time of late nights and unconscious days, of life schedules lived out of sync with the waking, quotidian world. It means that sometimes the body confines us like a coffin, the boundary between life and death blurred with no end in sight. Like Buffy’s Angel and True Blood’s Bill, we live out of time, watching others' lives continue like clockwork while we lurk in the shadows. And like them, we can look deceptively, painfully young even while we age, weary to our bones.

✴️ Also on Micro.blog

✍️ Reply by email

Kimberly Hirsh, PhD @KimberlyHirsh
IndieWebCamp
← An IndieWeb Webring →
 This work is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 .

I acknowledge that I live and work on unceded Lumbee, Skaruhreh/Tuscarora, and Shakori land. I give respect and reverence to those who came before me. I thank Holisticism for the text of this land acknowledgement.


We must acknowledge that much of what we know of this country today, including its culture, economic growth, and development throughout history and across time, has been made possible by the labor of enslaved Africans and their ascendants who suffered the horror of the transatlantic trafficking of their people, chattel slavery, and Jim Crow. We are indebted to their labor and their sacrifice, and we must acknowledge the tremors of that violence throughout the generations and the resulting impact that can still be felt and witnessed today. I thank Dr. Terah ‘TJ’ Stewart for the text of this labor acknowledgement.