Friday, April 27, 2007

633 days, 8 hours, 40 minutes, 30.1 seconds

She can't help wondering if it was a red Ford Escort. She almost bought a red car once, when the Datsun dealer claimed to have the car then claimed he'd get the car then said a maroon car which she knew was just a fancy tag for red. She can't stand red, the gaudiest vehicle on the road. She did have a pink car once, the Dodge Shadow. Slowest moving car she's ever driven. She can't even remember its name now.

633 days, 8 hours, 49 minutes, 18 seconds

So: An 81 year-old woman pulls into her driveway and notices a bull in her garage. The angry bull rams its horns into her Ford Escort. She blows her horn. The bull chases her car as she drives to a relative's home to call the cops. This happened yesterday in Hebron. Rural Washington County, the paper says. About fifteen miles from her own home. She doesn't know what to say except to record this here just as it happened. And to note she has no family in the area. She drove to a neighbor's once when the gas didn't work and the phone didn't work. No bull.

633 days, 9 hours, 25 minutes, 27 seconds

She got up. She turned on the computer. She went downstairs for breakfast. The usual routine. She took her pills, ate wasabi peas instead of a breakfast bar, since her head still hurt a bit. Then she realized she'd just aimed a bullet directly into her skull. She'd never changed her pill compartments. She'd just taken Glucophage. An innocent enough mistake.

In the news last January, there was a piece about the Tigger character at Walt Disney World supposedly hitting a child "on or about the head" while posing for photos. It's not the first time. In 2004 a different Tigger was accused of groping a thirteen year-old girl, but later found innocent.

633 days, 12 hours, 22 minutes, 16 seconds

Mickey Mickey Mickey Mickey Mickey. The little boy runs up and Mickey Mouse reaches down to hug him. Just the person I've waited my whole life to meet. Then the tv goes back to Law and Order.

633 days, 20 hours, 42 minutes, 16.7 seconds

What she's not writing here is that her father's sick. Or thinks he's sick. Angry that she's traveling all over the country and hasn't made time to see him,to go over all the possessions in the house, when he just gave her all that money. When he's sick. When she says they've been over all this already. When she says she doesn't want anything.

633 days, 20 hours, 46 minutes, 19 seconds

The last thing she wanted was yet another sickness journal. Then again, the last thi ng she wanted was this much pain. Oh, she can make excuses, can say her state mirrors the state her country's in. Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman exposed as military feel-good myths. The Dow Jones higher than ever.

633 days, 20 hours, 50 minutes, 19 seconds

She thought she had it down pat: one Glucophage in the morning, one at bedtime = some of the worst migraines she's had. One day off, and just a little headache, easily overlooked. But then, just as her husband suggests maybe only one pill tonight, she gulps two pills and ten minutes later that sharp pain running down the right side of her head again, as if it never left.

633 days, 20 hours, 54 minutes, 29 seconds

Mouskop. Mouse cap. To have a doctor with the head of a rodent her father has hunted down. A neurologist, no less. Except he's Russian, not German. Given the magic he's worked these past three years, she prefers to imagine him pulling Cinderella's carriage. The lead mouse.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

634 days, 12 hours, 26 minutes, 25 seconds

Her head's back to where it was four years ago pre-botox. Headaches every single day. For 16 unremitting days now. Tylenol not helping. The neurologist asks first if she can wrinkle her forehead, then if she's on any new medications. But she'd already figured that one out. The headaches unbearable within a few days of her splitting the glucophage tablets, one in the morning, one at night. Two at night she seemed able to tolerate. At the moment she couldn't care less about diabetes, she just wants to die. Don't tolerate, exterminate. Please.

634 days, 13 hours, 22 minutes, 15.6 seconds

She drops the car off. She wants to say she took a bus home because of what the cab did. Her husband even gave her one of his transit cards. But the fact is she only walked to the bus stop because she didn't think she could get a cab. She didn't get a receipt for the car, either. Avi wasn't there.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

635 days, 0 hours, 9 minutes, 10.5 seconds

Claritin. Tylenol. A muscle relaxant. And still her head's killing her. It's been the same for over a week now. All she can think of is Awakenings. Especially at bedtime.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

636 days, 11 hours, 48 minutes, 39 seconds

And 9,337 miles on the car, not quite eight years old. Blink, oops, bang, stop. She's become the master of little accidents like this. Never anyone hurt. Probably her fault, she tried to turn left past a cab sitting at the curb. Forget insurance, it would cost her more in premiums. Probably someone can hammer out the bumper, get a new light, a few hundred dollars. She gets the super to tape it up for her. Gets her husband to go find an auto body place with her. Any body.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

638 days, 11 hours, 53 minutes, 22 seconds

First she lectured her husband on the benefits of Echinacea. Then she gave him one of the two bottles she had. Then she finished her bottle. Then she bought a new bottle in Sacramento. Then she came home and took the bottle she gave him from the kitchen up to the bathroom where he can't find it. She hasn't unpacked yet.

638 days, 12 hours, 21 minutes, 35 seconds

That's the Particle museum she could have sworn Mary said, pointing to a round building visible from a park at the top of Marin Dr., overlooking the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate. This is where the Manhattan Project started, where they split the first particles. It's part of UC Berkeley's astrophysics department now. And maybe not a museum, or at least not open to the public. That was nine days ago now, hard to remember the description exactly. Her head splitting.

638 days, 12 hours, 32 minutes, 46 seconds

A bomb is a bomb is a bomb. There are so many bombs. Last night, for example. Her head splitting. She took Percocet for the first time in three years, and it was nearly midnight. Resting awhile, working awhile. She read old email, then two migraine articles, an article on the homeless, an article on a Long Island man who collects Pinocchio figurines . Finally the pain almost gone. The nausea set in then. God knows how out of date those pills might have been. Can't sit here worrying.

638 days, 12 hours, 53 minutes, 12.9 seconds

Baghdad Police
Station Hit By Car
The headline says. Read it as poetry, a pause t the end of each line, bomb on a line by itself. So many interruptions. A car hits the police station and bombs. The car hits the station and the bomb goes off. Or bombs, fails to go off. The Baghdad police stage, station, or plan the hit. Break a leg actors are told before a performance. 52 minutes, 0.3 seconds now. The clock's ticking. Can't sit here worrying about what or where the next bomb might be, especially when they seem to have brought this on themselves.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

639 days, 11 hours, 43 minutes, 29.6 seconds

Her brother-in-law's modular home arrived in Mississippi two days ago. To be erected on his Katrina-leveled lot. 100,000 pounds of house. $3.50 a pound that it ends up costing. And how much does steak cost these days? How much for those gourmet vegetable dishes she buys at Zabars? Every time her blood's high they vow to eat at home more.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

641 days, 9 hours, 55 minutes, 19.3 seconds

Meeting a friend for lunch, she thinks of sugar-free chocolates at Godiva. She recalls, years ago, dieting, she stopped in Fanny Farmer at the mall and bought sugar-free. Just as many calories as the others, the clerk told her. So why the hell make them? Why bother? Callous. Uppity. It's as if she brought all this on herself.

641 days, 12 hours, 11 minutes, 19 seconds

Those poor girls. Three days ago she explained to a friend that she doesn't like to teach high school or college because she can't get away from herself as a teenager. Not wanting to help kids as she needed help, but herself as still the outcast, students as tormentors. Now all she can do is feel sorry for those girls on the Rutgers basketball team. They thought they were winners. Then along came Don Imus.Then along came the Governor. Actually, the Governor never got there.

641 days, 12 hours, 14 minutes, 32.6 seconds

Corzine's crash happened on Thursday, while she was in Sacramento giving two readings. California. Always her refuge.

641 days, 12 hours, 27 minutes, 20.5 seconds

Ruffles have ridges. Politicians have privileges. And if the governor of New Jersey wants to sit in the front seat of the Suburban while his State Trooper driver goes 91 miles an hour, and he doesn't want the constraint of the seatbelt, that's his choice. Eleven broken ribs. On a ventilator. On morphine. Corzine was the only one without a seatbelt. The only one in hospital. In intensive care, unable to breathe on his own. But that's because of pain, mostly. No brain damage, no paralysis. He had a right to speed. He had to get to Camden. He just wanted to get out of Atlantic City. Her father, on a similar ventilator three years ago, just wanted to stay there.

642 days, 4 hours, 11 minutes, 59 seconds

An article from last year's news says Tony Blair spent over $3000 of the government's money on makeup during his first six years in office. And Marcia Clark claims she lost the Simpson case because she couldn't afford the fancy tv wardrobe. Six years ago, when Hillary won the senate race, she spoke of six black pants suits. But now, running for president, she seems to have given up on black.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

642 days, 4 hours, 27 minutes, 49 seconds

7:23 in Manhattan. Most of the women she knows are probably retouching their lipstick before or after dinner. (She fell today). The women she's closest to wear soft shades. Barely visible on their lips. Not like the magenta she wore in high school. She was a sorority pledge, she had to wear it. (She fell this afternoon crossing Columbus Ave.). Even on her wedding day she never thought of makeup. Though she owes her life to Botox. Not for wrinkles, for migraine. All those vain women have their uses. And, she admits, she's put on light powder for photographs. Never lipstick. Never eye shadow to weigh down already-tired eyes. And no plucked eyebrows. (She fell tonight just after picking up clothes from the cleaners).

642 days, 9 hours, 46 minutes, 25 seconds

Two nosebleeds in two days. She doesn't have time for this. But she picks at her nose when she's nervous, the way her mother smoked or Connie sucks on straws. Smoking was bad for her husband's health as well. Better than these nosebleeds, she supposes, when she's already slightly anemic. Blood on the keyboard now.

642 days, 23 hours, 5 minutes, 17 seconds

642 – It's an address. Or a zip code. An area code? Actually it's the first three digits of her summer phone number. Numbers no one can complete unless she wants to talk to them. We're focusing on vacations here. Houses with lawns and hammocks and barns. 642, the numbers humming like insects bedded down for the night, while frogs coak from one side of the road to the other and she lies in total darkness on the screened-in porch. 642. No peace last summer. And here she'd been waiting for this day, planning for it, stocking up on words as if they were earthquake provisions.

642 days, 23 hours, 55 minutes, 40 seconds

Headached, jetlagged, coming down with a cold – or maybe all three, she tries the Bush Cheney game to regain focus. Scores so low it's ridiculous, the head right in perfect position then she doesn't have strength to shoot. The two of them could get away with torture when she's in this state. And how many senators are there now campaigning every weekend? Iowa, New Hampshire, New Jersey... George and Laura, meanwhile, visited Virginia Tech today, thirty-three dead, others critical, the worst shooting in American history. One freshman, from New Jersey, was on an ROTC scholarship.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

643 days, 9 hours, 1 minutes, 26 seconds

Once upon a time, worried about repacking her computer, she left her pocketbook back at Security. Her father-in-law spotted it and tried to get it for her, but they wouldn't hand it over. Not even the same name.

643 days, 10 hours, 32 minutes, 45 seconds

Her first day back, the maid cleaning, just wanting to escape for awhile, she heads over to Popover for lunch, sits in a window seat with an ancient teddy bear on the shelf behind her. Mary said she's careful, in Berkeley, never to hang a picture over the bed. There must be twenty earthquakes a day in the Bay area. Not those that make headlines, certainly, but enough to knock paintings off the walls. Instead, she keeps two teddy bears above her bead, almost hoping they'll fall on her. That nice, soft landing. As their flight back was not, though the pilot, bless his heart, apologized – a strong tailwind, wet ground, and he had to brake hard so as not to skid.

643 days, 11 hours, 16 minutes, 38 seconds

She reaches for the golden ring. Or is it the brass ring? After tales about Goldrush California, she has gold on her mind. Mary pointed to old buildings in San Francisco with gilded roofs and said that, originally, that would have been real gold. She reaches higher.

643 days, 11 hours, 27 minutes, 40 seconds

Remember Easter. That Monday flight that was supposed to be a Sunday flight. What she didn't mention earlier was that their bags were checked on to Kennedy, while the flight they finally caught arrived in Newark. At her insistence, they took a cab to Kennedy that night, despite how late it was, only to find maybe 500 unclaimed suitcases lined up against the wall. And no one was checking baggage tags. Anyway, that's what it looked like at LaGuardia last night, on a smaller scale, maybe 300 bags, holdovers from Sunday's nor'easter. As they waited for the new bags to arrive a skycap was, for the sake of appearances, putting some back on a carousel.

643 days, 11 hours, 47 minutes, 20 seconds

It's so good to be back in normal time. Even if she feels like she's sleepwalking. Even if the trip home was grueling, the plane leaving Texas 45 minutes late, then sitting on the ground for a half hour before a gate was free. Her own bed last night aomewhere between dream and nightmare. There wasn't supposed to be jetlag in this direction, was there? When she was growing up, with parents who never traveled, she thought she'd want a job traveling around the world. But three trips this year will be enough for her. She recalls London, maybe fifteen years ago, her husband's first time out of the US and Canada, a three-night stay in a hotel one step up from flea bag, and how they arrived before noon and crashed for the better part of the day. Such a waste.

Monday, April 16, 2007

645 days, 10 hours, 5 minutes, 42 seconds

She chokes on phlegm or post nasal drip. She doesn't think it's blood. Like something gone down the wrong track. Coughing, trying to suppress a cough. Her throat raw. She thinks maybe climb down the ladder, get a drink, but she doesn't trust that to help. Doesn't trust the ladder. Doesn't trust her friend not to wake. This has been going on for what seems an hour. She doesn't think it's blood. She thinks of Bill, getting cheap theater tickets, then complaining they were seated up in the nosebleed section. Bill dead nearly three years now, a heart attack at a World Series game, most likely choking on his own blood, not quite high enough for the nosebleed section.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

645 days, 21 hours, 3 minutes, 2.3seconds

Oh, and by the way, there's a Nor'easter headed for New York, the winds already picking up. It should be over by the time they fly home on Monday, her husband says. They're flying toward Texas first, and the storm will have passed there as well, her friend says. And even if the planes are backed up at the airports, they let the regularly scheduled flights leave as close to on time as possible. Yes, of course, she remembers that flight to Atlanta, when she was the one left behind. But she's not convinced.

645 days, 21 hours, 13 minutes, 49 seconds

It was when they were renting out this space where they're sleeping. Several years ago. A woman sleeping alone in the loft heard snoring. No, she hadn't taken a man home with her, she wasn't that drunk. She descended the ladder, searched, climbed back up. That's when she saw the raccoon sprawled over the skylight, sound asleep. Just the little masked face, like they saw last night peering in their window as they talked. Like they saw on the street tonight. Strange to find animals this close to homes built this close to each other. Strange to sit here typing with someone other than her husband asleep a few feet away. Not masked. Not balding. Not snoring.

646 days, 7 hours, 25 minutes, 21 seconds

Air mattress. Air head. Maybe she and her friend should change places. She wants to say it's all the pressure. Weather. Readings. Friendship. Mattress. Her friend shows her the air in the mattress can be pumped up, but she's almost enjoying floating around like this. The closest to weightless she can get, and up a steep ladder. She's not afraid of heights, she's afraid of crashing.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

646 days, 7 hours, 49 minutes, 12 seconds

She wakes to rain pounding the skylight over her air mattress in the loft. No boat. No Internet. She calls her friend, and they agree to just meet for lunch. The rain lets up. She calls her husband. She finds a way to make her wireless work. At least from the guest house. At least from the study. It almost seems as if nothing else matters.

Friday, April 13, 2007

647 days, 21 hours, 3 minutes, 59 seconds

So okay: last night she understands why her blood was high. When you walk into a home in California and the first thing you see is an orange tree, there's no way you can resist fresh-squeezed juice. But then it was down this morning, and okay before dinner, then a dinner of sole, asparagus, and salad, and bedtime when she took it just to see if it was better, just to feel good about herself, it was high. Disgusted, she turns to solitaire. Plays out the second game, then insists she has to play out three games. Takes her blood again, finds it's still high. She gives up. She gives in to the headache that never quite left today, even with Tylenol.

648 days, 4 hours, 35 minutes, 39 seconds

So her reading wasn't till noon and she went to the library thinking she could get on the Internet, only she needed ID to get on the Internet so she sat down and finished a review and then tried to call him at work and got his home machine. At work? She checked the number on her cell. Then she thought it's Friday, he's working at home, he had the calls transferred, except it's Thursday not Friday. And when she reaches him later, at work, he said she obviously dialed wrong.

648 days, 4 hours, 46 minutes, 38 seconds

She got out of the car last night and the first thing she heard was the train whistle, which she hears again now. Freight trains, mostly, though Amtrack runs by here. Her husband, who asked this morning why she didn't call when she got in last night, forgetting the time difference, would have adored these trains, yet this morning she forgot to even mention them. She left her cell phone charger on her desk when she ran out yesterday morning, spent $40 for a new one at the airport. $40 for what would probably be $15 elsewhere. $40. That's how much she loves him.

648 days, 5 hours, 0 minutes, 26 seconds

Ridiculous. It's only four o'clock. It's bright sun out, and she's sitting on the screened-in porch. Everything's skewed in California. A twelve-hour flight yesterday that should have been no more than six, all the way south to north Texas before heading further west. And it will be the same going home, another two or three-hour layover. All because she didn't want to spring for the direct flight. All because she worried about missing connections. Then, after a plane ride that didn't even offer snacks and a meal at TGI Friday's, she arrived in Sacramento at nine o'clock, midnight by her watch, lugging her suitcase down an endless jetway straight into the arms of what seemed like a section of rowdy high school cheerleaders there to welcome home a Mormon missionary. And his family. Probably his family.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

650 days, 11 hours, 12 minutes, 5 seconds

She reads that four scientists at Leeds University have spent more than 1000 hours testing 700 variations of traditional bacon to discover what people respond to most. So what? She thinks. Except that her grandmother spent her first 23 years in Leeds. It was rumored to be the most anti-semitic area of England. She saw that for herself when she traveled there twenty-five years ago. It's not smell and taste, they discovered, but texture and the sound one makes while eating. Yes, she agrees, the texture. Text and subtext.

Monday, April 9, 2007

651 days, 12 hours, 1 minutes, 43 seconds

She thinks of the National Debt Clock that used to be near Bryant Park (actually, right near the first Staples store she'd ever seen, back in 1989). In September 2000, it read National Debt: $5,676,989,904,887, Your family's share: $73,733. But this wasn't right. As the millennium neared, it had begun counting backwards. Or maybe the government began back-pedaling. Or lying. Most likely lying. And the computer glitch everyone was concerned about. Then the clock was covered over. Then the clock was gone. Then a flashy new clock appeared above the Virgin Records Store in Union Square. She has a picture of it somewhere that she can't find now. Taking that photo, she thought it was the National Debt Clock resurrected. Now she's not so sure. She saw it from the doctor's office.

651 days, 14 hours, 0 minutes, 39 seconds

She has a cold sore on the edge of her lip. Just great. She's going to California in two days and today she develops a cold sore on her lip. It's too close to her mouth for Neosporin or Cortisone cream, so she rubs on Anbesol. Nearly seventeen years ago, when they were first together, she applied Anbesol to some cold sores just before bed. He commented on the fragrance.

651 days, 14 hours, 26 minutes, 52 seconds

She has diabetes. His mother had diabetes. It turns out his flight was delayed last night because one of the flight attendants went into a diabetic coma. They had to stop in Atlanta, and Spirit doesn't fly to Atlanta. Then they had to find a replacement crew member who happened to be in the area on Easter Sunday.

One Easter when they went to Florida it turned out their Monday tickets home were actually Sunday tickets. And the flight was full. And the next flight was full. And the next flight was full, and so on, and so forth. They ended up taking a flight to Atlanta, where they were told there was a better chance of getting a flight to New York.

His mother was alive then.

651 days, 21 hours, 59 minutes, 37 seconds

He called about ten minutes ago to say his plane landed. Now he has to wait for his bags, find a taxi (at this hour they probably won't be prevalent, especially if the flight's full). It will be another hour at least before he gets home. She takes a shower. She wishes, for the first time in years, that she wasn't on all the headache medications, hadn't become so sensitive to even the perfumes one finds in many soaps. Wishes she could smell sweet for him.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

652 days, 1 hours, 28 minutes, 45 seconds

She stopped on the thruway to e-mail him she'd stopped on the thruway. They now have Wi-Fi available, free, at all the rest stops. He e-mailed her from the airport in Lauderdale to say his flight's delayed nearly three hours, something about the plane being detoured to San Juan, but he has free Wi-Fi as well. And please don't wait up for him.

652 days, 10 hours, 36 minutes, 31 seconds

Not all those ones back there, but a virtual parade of ones, in pairs. If she didn't have that sort of marriage, where they're together but sacrifice nothing of themselves, she wouldn't be here. No, that sounds so selfish. She means they can be together, share everything, yet hold onto the parts of themselves they value most. Not to mention friends they had before knowing each other. In so many other relationships she saw the women changing, playing games, pretending to be what a partner wanted so long that they actually became that. If that's what was needed, she'd prefer to be alone. She's upstate. He's in Florida.

652 days, 10 hours, 54 minutes, 13 seconds

More trash.

652 days, 11 hours, 11 minutes, 11 seconds

Easter Sunday upstate. Brown grass, white snow patches, and the red breasts of four robins she sees out her kitchen window make her think of Global Warming. It's starting to snow again. She has to drive home today. 11, 11, 11 – all the ones in there. She's alone.

652 days, 11 hours, 41 minutes, 3.1 seconds

"Each image must lead, directly or indirectly, to the next image," she's been telling students for years, quoting Charles Olson. That's how she sees this blog shaping up. Once she makes the first entry, others follow in a mad rush. Or she must be mad. She feels as if she's opening a can of worms Рanother clich̩ she pontificates to students, showing them how each memory sparks the next memory, or how what someone else writes sparks their memories. Keep it short and focused, she tells them, and reminds herself now. Each entry of this blog to be just the one image, if there's more go to a new post. One perception must immediately and directly lead to a further perception Рthat's what Olson really said. She Googled it.

652 days, 11 hours, 56 minutes, 29 seconds

We're going to the country and we're gonna get happy, going to the country and we're gonna get ha-a-a-appy, going to the country we love... She used to sing that in the car, while the cat was whining in her carrier. Two years before she even knew him. The cat was all she had. He despised that cat.

652 days, 12 hours, 1 minutes, 49 seconds

We're going to the chapel and we're gonna get married... They couldn't have been together more than a few months. They'd driven somewhere in the city, came home, parked (she thinks on 91st St.), they kept the car on the street back in those safe days. They had the oldies station on, and this song came on just as they were about to get out of the car. She started singing along with it. He looked up, surprised, commenting that for the first time since they'd been together she was right on beat and right on key.

652 days, 12 hours, 22 minutes, 8 seconds

Whenever I want you all I have to do is dream... (Everly Brothers), I want a dream lover, so I don't have to dream alone... (Bobby Darin, or Bobby Rydell, though for some reason she thought it was Johnny Tillotson). Probably she'd have heard the Rydell, he the Darin. She plays the thirty second sample of Rydell, and her feet go into a cha-cha. She does that because she's alone. She'd never dance in public, not since Mrs. Dalbreth's. With her husband, alone, she even sometimes sings snatches of these songs. Whenever he's teasing, wanting her to buy him a piano, a Lexus, a home theater, new $10,000 speakers. Song after song. He claims she's destroying his love of them. Some day she plans to put them all on a cd. Maybe for their anniversary.

652 days, 12 hours, 30 minutes, 51 seconds

She's dreaming again. Or remembering her dreams again. Six dreams in the past two weeks. Usually she only dreams this much in the summer, when she's quiet enough to pay attention, and this past summer was a disaster – her printer breaking, her computer breaking, her father turning 90, planning a surprise party for her father. She felt as if she had no summer, as if she never calmed down. And there were only five dreams the entire summer. Now here she is, harried, frantic, driving upstate and back in two days, and she's dreaming.

652 days, 22 hours, 59 minutes, 47 seconds

Portrait of the happy couple: in a motel in Mystic, fireplace, furnished with antiques. The bed's so high he has to lift her up. The two of them sprawl amidst a dozen pillows, laptops buffered by a down comforter, surfing the Internet. It's their first experience with wi-fi. One of those Kodak moments.

652 days, 23 hours, 2 minutes, 32 seconds

They met by computer. No, not the dating sites so many others used, but in a computer users group, long before the Internet. They both had Kaypros, the old cp/m machines, luggable, the only one that could comfortably fit in her small apartment. Then she went away for the summer, wanted to call him but was afraid she'd be rejected. She knew if she called with a computer problem he'd be more than happy to talk with her. But she had to learn enough to have a real problem, so he wouldn't see through her ruse. Then she returned to the city, all but moved in with him, had her computer upgraded at his urging. It never worked after that.

652 days, 23 hours, 25 minutes, 3 seconds

Set it back to ground zero? Strange choice of words.

She remembers, the morning the towers fell, she'd just gotten up, turned on the computer, got a news alert saying second tower hit. Her husband called, asked her to call her father and his father, assure them they were alright. She said she'd do it in awhile. He said do it now, while there are still working phone lines. Then his friend from England called, didn't recognize her voice, hung up, called back.

She remembered this woman from years ago. The first time she ever felt competitive. Regarding him, at least. She was getting very mixed signals.

652 days, 23 hours, 46 minutes, 15 seconds

Twice in the past month she's thought, not about getting a new computer, but about setting this one back to ground zero and rebuilding it, without the port replicator this time. But, as her husband said more than once, she'd probably only screw it up with all that software she loads. Then the past few days it's seemed especially slow. Possibly due to her my pictures screen saver, which loads big files. So she sets one of the pre-loaded savers, hates it, sets a my pictures directory of smaller files, then takes it out altogether so she can run disk optimizer. She didn't think to put it back until tonight, then decided to download the Backwards Bush screen saver. Which, again, isn't set for daylight savings time. It's gotten so she doesn't know what to believe. Or who to trust. Love. Trust. She's still alone, up in the country, just for the one night. She wants to be home when her husband gets there. He's apologized for that computer comment, by the way. Calls her one of the best users. But she no longer believes him.

Friday, April 6, 2007

654 days, 1 hours, 56 minutes, 11 seconds

Bush can't take the stress, it seems. Thirty-six hours after she's bought the stress ball, and all the writing's worn off, the face reduced to a few lines here and there. Unrecognizable. Probably he planned to disappear like this, some sort of quick-change act that will have friends and family laughing the next morning. Still, it gives her hope.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

655 days, 6 hours, 32 minutes, 17 seconds

She's been shopping. Isn't that what wives do when their husbands are away? She looks at shoes, buys takeout dinner for herself, stops in the neighborhood gift shop where she saw Bush Countdown keychains to get a different one. This is a Bush's Last Day clock, without his picture on it, only: earth, water, air. Once again made in China. She also buys a Bush's Last Day tee-shirt, though God knows where she'll wear it, and a pale yellow stress ball with Bush's face on one side, a quote on the other side: It's clearly a budget. It's got a lot of numbers in it. GWB. Part of the face and some of the letters have worn down. It's the last one they had (good to think of other hands using this). She comes home to find Office Depot double-delivered the cups and batteries due here yesterday, takes everything upstairs in a cart from the laundry room (no one's in there doing laundry, not at nearly dinnertime). She had lunch very late, even for her.

655 days, 8 hours, 12 minutes, 53 seconds

Armed with her camera, she pushes her way to a window seat at the Starbucks on 81st & Broadway. A homeless woman with a huge assortment of bags is sitting on the median bench. She watches a woman stop and hand her a dollar, bending close to say something. She watches the bag lady pack up with great care, placing garbage bags over everything, including two of her three carts. Then she takes them apart and packs up again. And again. And again. She takes picture after picture, but no camera could capture this.

655 days, 12 hours, 27 minutes, 29.2 seconds

An editorial by a British woman speaks of Barbara Boxer's comment that Condoleeza Rice doesn't have to worry about her sons being killed in Iraq. A comment picked up by blogs everywhere. She follows the leads, ending up at an list of books and music by famous childless women, twenty-four in all: Emily Dickenson, Jane Austen, Dolly Parton, Marilyn Monroe, Virginia Woolf, Angela Davis, Bessie Smith, Gertrude Stein, Liza Minnelli, Mary Cassatt, Zora Neale Hurston... She wonders if her name will ever be among them.

655 days, 12 hours, 39 minutes, 50 seconds

Some Hospitals Call 911 To Save Their Patients, the New York Times headline reads. Hospitals specializing in only one or two procedures. Hospitals without a doctor always in attendance. Doctor-owned hospitals. A 44-year-old man just died, and an 88-year-old woman. The man lived in Texas. She can't help thinking of the president. And the little red phone beside his desk, for use in emergency. This headline lay on her virtual desk three days before she even looked at it.

655 days, 13 hours, 8 minutes, 2.6 seconds

She sits at the kitchen table with a low-carb breakfast bar. She teaches tomorrow, then plans to drive upstate. Good Friday, and the traffic should be hell. Then she'll drive back on Easter. What she really wants is a few days just by herself in the city. But she has to get up there. She wets a finger and picks a crumb of chocolate off the table, puts it in her mouth. It's nice to reach for a little black spot like that, not in the least bit worried it might be mouse turd.

655 days, 13 hours, 14 minutes, 26 seconds

She wakes to snow flurries. He's leaving for Florida in forty minutes. She supposes she should get up and see him off. She wants to tell him now that's the wrong shirt to wear, too bright for those slacks, but she doesn't. On the plane he'll look like some Queens or Brooklyn version of a Floridian. She goes downstairs for breakfast early, to spend a bit more time with him. He gets a call from work. He packs up his computer. The car service calls from downstairs. He's off.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

656 days, 13 hours, 19 minutes, 56 seconds

Last night her husband yelled at her. Or this morning, really. It was 2:00 a.m. When he got in bed she just wanted to finish sending off some poems, pasting them into an e-mail, recording the submission. Then she went to back up the computer. But back up a step: she checked her email. Then she backed up the computer (just files from her document directory, just the changed files). It doesn't take long. Her husband put the radio on. She was halfway into the bathroom, ready to wash up and go to bed, when she had another idea. So she came back into the room and sat down with it. The radio shut itself off. He wasn't asleep yet. That's when he yelled that her typing was keeping him awake. She should go into the living room. And she was half tempted. But by the time she shut down, unplugged the port replicator, then turned the computer on again, she'd lose her train of thought. As if she hadn't already.

656 days, 22 hours, 8 minutes, 37 seconds or 656 days, 23 hours, 8 minutes, 37 seconds

Depending which clock you believe. The first is on the Backwards Bush site (from which she set her keychain). The second is on this very blog (using code from the Backwards Bush site) as well as the National Nightmare site. It has to do with the change in Daylight Savings Time. It has to do with the webmaster paying someone else to create the clock for him. It took her two weeks to notice this. More than likely the president never will.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

657 days, 13 hours, 59 minutes, 38 seconds

The distinct sound of the woodpecker hitting his beak against a tree by her pond upstate. How she used to love to sit and watch and listen. Then she grew afraid about Lyme disease. Then his father got Babesiosis, spread by a tick native to Rhode Island, and almost died, and almost destroyed his recent second marriage. Then he, her husband, understood her fears.

657 days, 21 hours, 32 minutes, 15 seconds

Opening Day all over again. But if Congress won't give him money to send more troops to Iraq, and if they insist upon questioning his staff under oath, and if they keep calling for Gonzalez's Hispanic testicles on a platter, then he'll be damned if he'll play ball. He sits behind that great big desk, hand hovering above the red button, sulking. And her? She's left batting his head around, wracking up more countries than she can name. Except she's not very focused today.