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.