Date: Sun, 11 May 1997 15:26:55 +0000
From: David Hudson

00:00

David Hudson

Four, sometimes five. One of those precious few hours between the moment I finally give up and put the computer to sleep and sunrise. Iím recomposing in my own sleep. I should have said... yes, thatís what I should have said. Sounds sublime in sleep, but even here, I know itíll come up short and scrawny when it put to the caffeine test.

Moving files. Mustnít forget to read that one. Folders in folders, those swallowing pools where all the answers go. Still looking when cries tug at the loose lines of the subconscious, and damnit, I thought Iíd pulled them all in. Shriek over shriek, dragging, scraping me up, and I say, No, Iím not coming, but I lose. Here I am, awake. Again.

I memory-walk through the blank dark and meet Dagmar halfway. "Since three," she says, and stomps to the balcony. Sheís been coddling the one year old for an hour, maybe two, and by now heís earned the solitary treatment. I know that one, kid. Heíll scream until she comes back, and maybe exhaust himself. We hope so. The neighbors hope so.

One couple told us their boy didnít sleep the night through until he was four. My first thought was that I wished theyíd read us our sentence in the evening, not the afternoon, because I sure as hell could have used a drink right then and there.

Seven. The Toothpaste Zombie Hour. Father and daughter go through the motions, cringing at every misstep, because a misstep means noise, and noise means breaking the spell in the bedroom where mother and son recover from their night-long battle. She dresses, I check email. Her, him, him, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, him, him, blah, oh that.

Somehow, we are cleaned, sheathed and presentable within minutes, and itís a good thing, too, because I for one do not have the vaguest notion that the day has begun until the morning air hits us on the sidewalk.

To the car. Watch for dogshit. In the car. Keys, belt, seat back, wheel up, here we go, sleepwalking through cold gray Berlin. In a car. Radio on. Hereís a tune, now we can talk. I tell her where the samples come from, she tells me how she translated this rap for her friends. Impossibly, there are laughs to let go. A "motherfucker"? Well, yes, if you think about it, I guess almost all Dads are indeed motherfuckers, but see, thereís a difference...

Kiss, have a good day. Five to eight, time for the BBC guy to read me the morning headlines from all the Euro papers as I drive back to the computer. Seems not one morning goes by without mention of Roadblocks on the Path to European Union. Vive le brie! Wir werden schon wissen wie man ein Bier braut! Hands off our haggis!

More layoffs.

The bakery, first pot of coffee. And the shotgun blast of the desktop, each scattered screaming pellet threatening to puncture the thin balloon straining from my shoulders. Which of these is closest to undoing everything unless I catch it immediately...

Dear Screenwriter. Page 64. Youíre going to piss off half your audience having your character take off her clothes to do the dishes for no other reason than the fact that you wrote this with your dick. Sorry to be so blunt, but thatís what you pay me for. Which reminds me...

Dear Producer. Enclosed please find the English version of Episode 27. I look forward to seeing Bertha Blows Up Braunschweig beamed to satellite disks around the world. Actually, thrillers are great. 106 pages in three days. "Freeze!" Bang! Ha! This monthís rent in the can. And not a moment too soon. Bertha and I barely scraped through that one.

Email. Of course I can write that article! Not that I know anything about that whatchamacallit plug-in, but I can ask around. Research, right. Just slipping the word in between clauses when Baby Vortex wakes.

Wash, diaper, leotards, socks, undershirt, whoops, new undershirt, collared shirt, jeans overalls, baby cup, joghurt, spoon... Dagmar gets an hour of sleep to patch over the nightís roughest spots. The Father and Son Bonding Hour is off and ticking. Kitty Cat says Meow, CNN, twenty piggy-back push-ups... See, the phone rang the other day: A friend in Munich, just five years older than I am, slammed with a minor heart attack. Sweat beads and alarms. Herr Doktor says he just hadnít been moving around enough.

Sit-ups for the duration of the financial update. The dollar, Up! The markets, Up! Unemployment, Up!

Ach, gentlemen, you go on redistributing the wealth among yourselves, Iíll concentrate on redistributing the flab for now. And the dog says, Woof!

The following hours have no name. Nor are they ever counted. Just keep swatting at pellets. An article for the phone bill. A dialogue list for the car insurance. Why does it all have to come from this goddamn computer? And itís never enough. Sneak out onto the Net. Research, right. Sure is getting meta out here. Heavily overcast with a severe chance of thunderstorms. Then, dark and dinner.

Hello, family. Howdy, stranger. Yesterday, I broke the clench of the freelancing routine by hitting the public swimming pool with my daughter. Hard. The moment I slapped the surface of the chlorine, it slapped back, shoving a slick needle the size of a flagpole through my chest and up my left arm and shoulder.

This is it. News of my friend in Munich must have been what they call foreshadowing. Christ, my movie has no third reel. My greedy head has stupidly assassinated my heart. Now I know which was the real thin balloon and which was the impostor. I float over to the side. How white and clammy I must look. My daughterís doing headstands. Thatís great. No, Iíll just watch. Iíll try one in a moment. Actually, it might not be so bad if you stuck around right now...

Well, what a hypochondriac. Twenty minutes later, the frightened ghost is creeping back, however reluctantly, into the rickety machine. Whatever it was that sucked the blood out of me has spewed it back, most likely with a hearty guffaw. The third reel is pure comedy, I see. But whatever it was had never done that before, and besides, Iím not usually one to pay much attention to it anyway. How flattering: it got jealous.

But I have no choice. Reenter the face of the other machine, the one that runs this household, thatís introduced me to people I may never get to know, the one that blasts packets of emergencies back at me in endless, ever-widening streams. Think Iíll rename my hard drive Janus. The empowering enslaver.

Around one or two, I pour the first scotch of the evening, simultaneously signalling a self-imposed curfew on posting (certainly learned that lesson a while back) and the launch of a free ride going nowhere.

The mind splits into scouting parties wandering off in all directions. One makes the usual rounds, one goes meme-picking, one sets up camp at the back of my hurting head: Will I ever do that novel? How about another shot at my own screenplay? I mean, fuck Bertha. How about it?

After a while, I notice theyíve all dozed off. Alone at last. Except for Janus, of course, the tireless factory, my mercilessly unobscured object of desire, hate and need. I give up. You win.

Night.


David Hudson runs the webjournal REWIRED www.rewired.com
comes from San Francisco and lives in Berlin