Monday, January 15, 2007

Sweet Machines

There's nothing like a snow day. Nevermind that today was Martin Luther King day and we all had off. We played "cut off from the world" without actually being cut off from the world. We cooked my son's meals from the bounty of our freezer. We ate chinese at 8pm by the bounty of the chinese delivery man.

Today was my husband's birthday, as well. There was no cake. My son scribbled something that I interpreted as a black hole, then I scrawled a formal dedication across the page and left it on the table. My husband accepted it as though it were actually meant to be, hugged our son who was a bit dumbfounded and somewhat preoccupied with a train book.

I was thinking back to how many of my husband's birthdays my son has been with us (the answer: two, today included). (I am notoriously bad at remembering such numerical milestones-- I often forget how old I am). This is a salient fact because I was remembering my husband's birthday three years ago while I was pregnant.

I had a somewhat complicated pregnancy and there were questions about the baby's health. On that birthday we didn't do anything particular either, but I remember sitting down the day before and writing a card to my husband from my in-utero son. He said (in his broken German) that everything would be OK. That he knew that my husband's worry was a sign of his love. There was a kind of recognition that was written through me, of which I was not the author.

The note ended, "Anyway, you shouldn't worry too much. I've heard that's bad for old people like yourself."


My husband has been obsessed lately (and no, that's not an exaggeration) with two things: the new iPhone from Apple and selling crap on eBay.

His obsession marks our lives far beyond the twenty times I have to ask him to do something simple like throw me down a new pair of socks.

The iPhone has affected us indirectly: My husband has been waiting with bated breath for weeks, watching Mac rumor pages on the Web and sharing with me their wild speculations about what Steve Jobs would announce as the new developments at MacWorld. "Apparently he's invited all of his personal friends to come to the keynote," he shares with me enthusiastically. Which is to mean what? "There's something big cooking."

Let me explain: It is because of Mr. Jobs and my husband's zeal for all things Mac that we do not have a television. More properly, we have a computer upstairs, right outside my light-sleeping son's room, with something called Eye TV installed. That means we get "television" "through" our computer. That also means for all intents and purposes that aside from sitting on the concrete floor in our basement, our "television" is located in the most uncomfortable, impossible spot in this entire house.

There have been discussions about moving it downstairs, which causes its own problematics: Where does the G5 go then? Should we wait and get an iMac? What offers the best recording quality? HOW MANY FREAKING YEARS IS IT GOING TO TAKE ME TO GET SOMETHING THAT WORKS LIKE, SEEMS LIKE, AND IS A WORKING TELEVISION IN A ROOM WHERE I CAN ACTUALLY USE IT?

Mr. Jobs was supposed to have the answer. Instead, he announces the iPhone. He has not made any of this easier. Thanks, Mr. Jobs.

The second preoccupation-- selling shit on eBay-- was inspired by our friend in Chicago who bought himself a sweet midlife crisis car from his eBay sales. Now my husband is hell-bent on ridding our lives of all sorts of things we never used, used, or have no use for. He is currently cleaning out the battery holder of his old SLR with Qtips (my favorite cleaning implement) and a mild rubbing-alcohol solution.

He has already gotten rid of a few things that way and it does seem to work: there is indeed somewhere a buyer for almost anything under the sun. From our loft-office overlooking the uncleared streets of West Madison, our lives are slowly being rid of their clutter.

Technology: It's that easy. Something for everyone. Everyone loves a perceived deal. Automation makes the world go round.

Who says there's no suffering for great art?


I gave my husband the Silver Spoon cookbook for his birthday, and I ineptly wrapped it in a piece of my son's drawing paper upon which I scrawled some of his many different qualities in crayon. Of course I had neglected to check and make sure the page was the right size (which it wasn't by a long shot) and so as neatly as I could, I tucked the paper around the hulking book and left it laying on his side of the bed.

He didn't see it until I started hopping up and down and pointing to it. Not sure if he overlooked it or if he's just graceful like that-- never falling over himself to "get" something. He loved the paper. He loved the book.

What a truly sweet day. I love it because it's the anniversary of the day this amazing person came onto the planet. His obstinate, over-cautious, over-excited, amazing self.

Welcome to the world again.

"Sweet Machine" is the title of a wonderful book of poetry by Mark Doty. I have merely stolen the title here for my own purposes.

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