Monday, May 7, 2007

623 days, 10 hours, 38 minutes, 22 seconds

Well, they came and got me out of Texas, and I can tell you it's a privilege to be back, Roger Clemens said as the 45 year-old pitcher announced he would rejoin the Yankees, even agreeing to start off in the minor leagues. And 52,533 fans at the stadium got to their feet and went wild. Which proves New Yorkers actually welcome men from Texas. So long as they're winners. So long as they understand teamwork.

623 days, 11 hours, 20 minutes, 33 seconds

And yesterday he showed her all the books in the den, thinking maybe there were some she'd want. Books on finance and butterflies. He knew she liked to read. And she said, perhaps too quickly, that she'd take them to a used book store. Strand, probably. She didn't think to ask where his old Readers Digest condensed novels were. She'd read some of those. She thought for a moment of the old Time/Life photography books he had, still on those shelves, then realized they'd be of little use in this digital age. She'd given him most of those. Bought for half price or less, at Strand.

They'd been together in Middlebury, Vermont, about ten years ago, when his camera stopped working. He and his lady friend, she and her husband. For his birthday a month or so later they gave him a new digital camera – a Sony that stored pictures right on disk, so he wouldn't have to learn the quirks of transferring photos. As she showed him how to use it, she thought perhaps this was something else they might share. But they took entirely different sorts of photos. And he could never remember how to turn it on, how to snap a photo. And it pained her to see this intelligent man who suddenly coudn't keep things straight, couldn't manage even the things that, for her, were child's play.

623 days, 22 hours, 2 minutes, 3.4 seconds

Sitting on her father's sofa this afternoon, the computer on so she could take notes as he led her from room to room, seeing all he wanted her to see, she paused and copied the blog entries from a few hours earlier. He was on the phone. He hung up. She put the computer into standby. He got another call. She had just a few words left to type, and finished. She tore the pages out of her notebook, started to throw them in the trash, then shoved them in her pocket on the off chance he'd try to decipher her handwriting. What was is she afraid of? That he'd lecture her once again on how awful Bush is? That there'd be a connection between father and daughter surpassing following the Phillies together 43 years ago? That he'd be worried she'd be jailed for writing this? She could have at least shown him the Backwards Bush countdown clock.

623 days, 22 hours, 9 minutes, 5 seconds

He doesn't see any point in living this way, he says. Her husband would rattle off all the good times he's had in the past year, all the people who care about him. But she admits to feeling the same way. Once her mind goes, once she can no longer think and write, she wants out. She might have spent this past month with the worst headaches in over two years, felt the absolute terror of going back there, but she'd forgotten how good she is at writing through the pain, almost writing with more power because of it.

623 days, 22 hours, 12 minutes, 15.9 seconds

Her father admits he's feeling fairly well of late, physically, though he can't walk and slips a nitroglycerin pill under his tongue while they're talking – the first in months, he says. She doesn't know how he remembers. Over dinner he tells the story of going to Link Trainer school ten times within five minutes, backing up a sentence or two, so that it seems he'll never finish. And he knows it. He says he's near the end.