Tuesday, March 20, 2007

671 days, 13 hours, 16 minutes, 25 seconds

Her father, twelve years ago now, two days after her mother's funeral, driving the family out to dinner and going the wrong way around a traffic circle he'd driven most of his life.

671 days, 22 hours, 43 minutes, 55 seconds

Another friend writes of driving around half the day in an attempt to focus. And she recalls many times, uptight, frazzled by the city, she's gotten in the car headed for her home upstate. It's physical then. She feels how tightly she's gripping that steering wheel. The sun comes through the windshield and lands on finger after finger. One by one, the fingers loosen their grip. By the time she's forty minutes out of the city most of the tension's drained from her body.

671 days, 23 hours, 30 minutes, 36 seconds

Christmas after Christmas they travel to Texas. Christmas after Christmas, sitting around the dining room table, they've learned to exchange snippets of their lives. And his niece told once of the troubled teens she teaches. There was one she had to wrestle to the ground. Others are autistic. That's where the video games come in. Kids who don't know how to have a typical conversation suddenly understand the script of the game, and will interact, making it into a dialog of sorts. The usually lethargic assume the game's animation.

What happens when these kids graduate high school? she'd bit her lip and dared to ask.

Well, many can go to normal colleges. In college there isn't the social conformity of grade schools and high schools, many of them will do fine.

She remembers Diet Coke going down the wrong tract. She had no social skills growing up. She couldn't seem to have the sort of conversations her parents and teachers expected. She never made it to college. Writing, pad and pen, then later typewriter, became the equivalent of her video game.

She's just trying to put the world in focus.

671 days, 23 hours, 33 minutes, 36 seconds

Her husband, hearing the shots of the Bush game, calls up to ask what she's doing (implying why is she wasting her time), and she calls back down that she's not playing she's writing. Just trying to focus.

672 days, 0 hours, 0 minutes, 39 seconds

There's a parable she often uses in teaching, probably a bastardized version by this time. But a king's daughter was ready for marriage, and he announced he would give his daughter to the marksman who could hit the bird in the eye. He set a date for all interested men to gather. But one caveat: if they shot and missed, they'd be put to death.

The first hunter stepped up, aimed his bow. The king motioned for him to wait, then asked what he saw. "Oh," he said, "this is the most beautiful forest in the kingdom." The king refused to let him shoot. The next hunter came up and took aim, and again the king stopped him and asked what he saw. "The tree, in which that bird is, is the greenest tree in the forest," he said. And once again the king refused to let him shoot. And so on through hunter after hunter. Finally a man stepped up. When the king asked what he saw, he replied "I see only the eye of the bird." The king let him shoot, and of course he hit the bird in the eye.

So it's a question of focus.

The hand-eye coordination. Trying to predict where the head will bounce. Keeping her fingers steady. If she turns away for half a second that head bounces off the screen. If she moves her cursor a tenth of an inch off Cheney's face, that head bounces off the screen.

God, this much focus on a president.