Thursday, February 22, 2007

697 days, 6 hours, 34 minutes, 33 seconds

No matter what, no matter where, no matter when. It seems like her major computer problems begin after midnight. Long after her father's in bed. He said he was looking forward to retirement so that he could sleep late, but after a month or two he realized the whole day was gone by the time he got up. The whole day, by his standards. She needed to work late and sleep late, to prove her life wasn't his life.

Her husband's usually up until one or two. When she has problems like that he shoves toothpicks in his eyes and tries to help her. The last thing she wants is his help.

697 days, 7 hours, 0 minutes, 51 seconds

She pauses from work for a few minutes to watch her computer disk finish backing up, which still seems the most interesting thing she's done today.

697 days, 7 hours, 15 minutes, 52 seconds

George Bush even punched his father once, her father says. No way he could vote for a man like that.

697 days, 7 hours, 28 minutes, 36 seconds

Four years ago. December, 2002, to be exact. Or maybe November. Just before or just after her birthday (there was a blizzard on the day of that welcome party). She came home to find a message from her father on the machine. Upset not at what she'd written, but what a critic friend wrote about her poems. Most sensitive essay she's read, she told him. She has no right to write about his life, he told her. And she said it was her life, not his. But let's face it, they needed each other. Especially now, with his lady-friend dead also. Him in and out of the hospital. He still reminds her that reviewer should be shot. She still keeps him uninformed about her new work. It doesn't win his praise, anyway, he only knows success in terms of money. He clings to life hoping her novel's made into a blockbuster movie, like The Firm. Which reminds her that Billy Collins is Bush's favorite poet.

697 days, 7 hours, 38 minutes, 46 seconds

Some things are just naturally a waste of time. This new flash computer disk, for instance. Slowest damn write speed she's ever seen. She was up until 6:00 a.m. trying to cope with it, then lay in bed unsleeping. So okay, plan revised: use this for unchanging backup files, keep the old flash disk (too small for all her files) as her main daily backup. Over four years old now. She remembers the day he bought it for her – teaching, then meeting to plan a party for the arrival of a friend's adopted daughter, five or six now. Denting the car on the way. Then this disk wasn't the one she'd planned on buying. But it's served her, perhaps, better than the friend has. People's needs change. People's interests change. We have to set priorities. Sleep, for her, has never been one of them. Cursing every minute of work time sacrificed.