Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Digital Life

Wake up. Pee. Check Smart Mail. Twelve messages on making my penis bigger, three on increasing my breast size. Hotmail, nada. No comments on the blog; is anyone reading this? Ebay. The fucking German who said he'd buy the guitar and amp still hasn't bid. I'm French, he's a Boche, why am I surprised. MegaMillion lottery. I am not a winner.

There. I've now been in touch with the world, and the world has touched me, electronically speaking.

I still have my first computer, a Kaypro "portable" that looked like and weighed as much as a sweatshop Singer. I took that thing around the world twice when I worked for the UN, and often it got a first class seat. It was impossible to operate, needed two discs to boot up and a third one to run any program. I lost so much stuff in that machine it's a wonder I'm still writing. No internet to speak of back then, no email either, but the thing could produce your biorhythm chart, so for a short while I was very popular. First kid on the block and all that.

At the World Bank offices in Washington, where I worked, we first got word processors the size of spinet pianos. Huge floppy discs and working programs made in Holland. For the first six months, only the Dutch could operate them.

I'm not sure we're better off now, really. I run Vista, which has so many safeguards against bad guys and virus that the OS often slows down to a crawl. I have files that I will never recover, simply because Windows decided I probably would not need them again. There are some pictures of doubtful moral value that have simply vanished. I am sure they will resurface when I run for public office.

What I like the most is Spider Solitaire and the Find and Replace function in Word...

Here is installment six of Wasted Miracles.

She smiled in the dark. You shouldn't count on fairness, it wasn't so much that it was unreliable--it was a word without weight to it, without wisdom or conscience.
Josie's first rehab had followed the talk with the teachers. A farm in Maryland, 15 kids there for six weeks, horses, chickens and orchards. The kids, all recuperating druggies and drinkers, spent a couple of hours a day taking care of animals and were assigned chores, learned to deal with responsibilities, with each other. It seemed like a good place, not at all like the ARC where Catherine herself had dried out and rehabed. At the ARC, outdoor activity was all the drunks and addicts taking a chaperoned walk through the parking lot. Things had changed since Catherine's days.
Josie came out of the farm and seemed all right, quiet, less defiant. She went to AA meetings for teenagers, appeared more at ease in her own skin but it didn't last. Six months later the police called, Josie had been busted with three other kids divvying up a couple of grams behind a Thai restaurant. The cops had been good about it, had released her in Catherine and Lars' custody.
The second rehab was all tough love. No more wide open spaces and outdoor sing-alongs; this place was a brownstone in Baltimore and the kids were rougher, a lot of them giant black boys and skinny thirteen-year-old girls from the inner city with kids of their own. Josie's silken blond hair and pale features were the target of endless verbal abuse and petty criticisms. The staff accused her of thinking she was better than the others. Josie had toughened up quick. And stopped talking.
For two weeks, the counselors told Catherine, Josie refused to open her mouth. She ate, sat, slept in a world of silence, watched others around her but refused to participate in the group’s activities. Then, for reasons entirely her own and never explained, she started talking again, told everyone long, invented stories of her childhood, of living in Europe and being sexually abused by servants while her parents watched. When Catherine heard this, she was horrified but the counselors told her sometimes that happened, young people escaped reality in any way available, manufactured a past that only vaguely touched on the truth.
And then there’d been the pregnancy. Of all the dramas Josie had put them through, Catherine thought, that one galled Lars more than anything. It had rendered him speechless with rage for days, he had broken flowerpots and thrown furniture around, an amazing display of anger that Catherine would have sworn was beyond him. But then, how could the girl be so foolish? Schools gave out birth control information, condoms were everywhere, Josie had her own gynecologist, and still she’d gotten pregnant. “Knocked up,” she said, using the words of another generation. And she wouldn’t reveal to anyone who the father was, it’s not the point, she said, it was her body and anyway she was the one who’d fucked him. The word alone had a devastating impact on Lars who turned pale, then red, then gray.

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