If you had a camera in here, recording my steps around this crowded apartment, you would see the steps circling endlessly back to this chair with the excellent view of this computer screen. To either side of the screen, and in front of the keyboard, drifting piles of beautifully colored ink drawings, like sand dunes seen through a prism.
“Why don’t you shut the computer off and just clear off the kitchen table?” a reasonable voice asks.
The camera would show me nodding, powering the machine down, stepping away from the computer, into the kitchen, looking at the table. An hour’s work, one would estimate. Put the blood pressure monitor somewhere, take away the power cord from the macBook, put away the cable for the iPod. Remove the two wire book stands, collapsed and interlocking, lying interspersed with various small items, most of which, although they’ve been there for years, should be discarded. Move away the cutting board, unplug the disconnected phone, put the unit in the electronics recycling bag.
Then just go through that raft of papers, most of which can be thrown away or shredded after a glance. There is even a prize at the bottom of that Crackerjacks box, in addition to a clear work space to prepare food, eat a meal not propped on your lap. Under those hillocks of papers, hopefully, is the card with the new return address of your old friend’s widow. You’d like to write back to her, wouldn’t you?
But first, the steps lead back to the computer, power it on again, just a little sit here, see what’s doing, just a moment. That snow storm, winter storm warning still in effect, what time is it now supposed to hit Queens and when do I need to leave here in order to shovel out from under it without being caught in it? Etc.
This is all undeniably a bit freakish, and worrisome. Just a moment’s pondering and I see it is just a fragment of a larger freak show all around. We leave aside things like $81,000,000 paid to two psychologists to reverse engineer a torture program nobody seems very upset about. Here there is a car going 75 mph on the interstate, accelerating onto a lane of hidden ice with the thought to go 80 in the HOV lane. Here is a man issuing periodic and alarming reports from hell, describing a relentless monster wife and an unbearable life, now suffered for over twenty years. There a man tells his longtime wife that their marriage has been over for a decade and shakes his head at her angry display of shock. Here a man calls an old friend and complains that he is often seen as using the man, dragging him back into the weeds of bad old habits. He urges his recovering alcoholic friend to intervene, for the sake of his reputation, tell them it isn’t so, that he is a good friend, and then… by the way, if you don’t mind…. if I could prevail on you … do you still have that bottle of excellent single malt? The examples are too numerous, the exceptions too few… it is all a gorgeous, swirling landscape of barely concealed madness.
There must be some kind of way out of here, said the joker to the thief. I will just tap here a few seconds more and now …. if you will excuse me… I must be…. on my way.