Archive for March, 2006


March 10, 2006

Ok, no more fucking around. Like Travis Bickle, he had to be disciplined. He had to have a plan. How was he going to deal with living unplugged? He sat down with a notebook and listed all the things he thought that plugging in gave him, then tried to find a substitute – something that would fill the particular craving. First of all he needed a catharsis, someplace to dump all the detailed observations he had trained himself to make. What were his other needs? He thought he might need some way to excercise his empathy. And, like Delany’s dragons, he had an appetite for novel experiences. And lastly he needed some other crutch to help his memory. He would start to seem very forgetful, almost impaired, to his acquaintances.

To satisfy his catharsis, he would keep a journal. The list itself was a good start. A journal also would allow him to make his mark on the world, however small. The coffee shop had a small corner where they sold vanity journals and pens. Steve had sometimes lingered over it, just as he had lingered over the french presses and the latest travel mugs while waiting for the barista to prepare his order. Now he had an excuse to buy something. His cheeks burned a little as he picked them up to feel their weight in his hands. Would he feel comfortale writing in this one? or that one? They were all so bloody pompous. He picked one whose cover was of alligator leather. The smell almost made him drunk. He felt the same elated humiliation taking it to the register as he did when he bought porn.

The new privacy of his memories as they lay in this journal began to charm him. No one else would ever see them. He started to keep his journal in a dresser drawer. He toyed with the idea of keeping it in code. Even Pepys’s code was broken, though.


in memories

March 9, 2006

He woke up one Saturday and knew he was going to plug in that day. He rubbed his eyes and lay staring at the off-white ceiling for fourteen full minutes. Wondering if there was any way out of it. He spent the rest of the morning rationalizing it – trying to convince himself that he wasn’t really going to go plug in, even while he knew he was – depating with himself whether he liked, or even accepted, the fact that, yes, he was going to go plug in that day. In the early afternoon he went to plug in.

While there, floating through memories, he recognized one of them. Drop-panel ceilings. Raspberry colored walls curving into the breakroom, wherein lies the precious coffee. It was his office. At first he mistakes it for one of his memories. It wasn’t not often that he encounters his own memories. In fact he can’t remember another occasion. For some reason, though, he wasn’t surprised. Then he saw himself from within the memory. Then the person whose memory it was sat down at Barbara’s desk. He was looking at himself from that viewpoint. From her viewpoint. This was her memory.

If he had seen one of her memories, then it was only a matter of time until she saw one of his – if she hadn’t already. What was once an almost paralyzing fear became a galvanizing fact. This wasn’t a fucking game, where he could waste time futzing around to see if he could keep the servers from downloading memories he didn’t want them to have, but if he failed it didn’t really matter. If he failed it did matter. He had to make sure his memories didn’t get in there.

And there was really only one way to do that: to give up plugging in altogether.

in the neighborhood

March 6, 2006

Steve was still plugging in at least once every week and a half. He was paranoid about her finding his feelings, but knowing how remote the chance was helped him to counter-rationalize going to plug-in,even though he hadn’t “gotten over” her yet . Sometimes he really felt he needed it to calm down,

On a Sunday morning in early spring, Steve walked out of his apartment to go get some coffee and a paper bring back to his apartment and enjoy on his balcony. Sunlight recoiled off the sidewalk with a violence that jolted against the sudden relaxed feeling brought by the warmer air. Jacket weather. Snow patches lingered. There seemed to be more orange everywhere. As he was leaving the coffee shop and walking away a flash of brown caught his eye. It was the same sweater frock coat.

A chill soaked his spine as he recognized Barbara. I wonder if that sweater is a little warm for today. He kept moving, and she didn’t see him. We was confused, almost a little dazed, as he walked back to his building. She’s in my neighborhood? Does she live near here? They had never discussed where they lived. Steve never let their conversation get personal. He was too afraid of where it might go. Does she go to the same plug in center I go to? Does she use the same servers I use? The same berth? Fuck!

trying to keep a secret

March 3, 2006

The crush didn’t go away. He found himself thiking about her more and more – he couldn’t stop thinking about her. He caught himself waking up from longer and longer fantasies about Barbara, and kicked himself each time for letting himself fall into them and for not catching himself sooner. Then he would try waiting for a while before plugging in, to see if maybe the memory of that particular thought or fantasy might fade enought that it wouldn’t be picked up by the memory servers. However, he didn’t know if that will work. He didn’t know down to what hidden layer of memory the servers would dig. But in his workaday suspicious mind, he ignored that fact and tried his experiment anyway. Most of the times that he slipped into superstition or magical thinking was in order to ignore good sense or logic, and do what would give him more immediate gratification.

At first his strategy was just to cut down the fantasy time so that it made up a smaller percentage of his total memories. There would be less chance of her stumbling across them in the mnemoscape. But he found this impossible – he was thinking about Barbara nearly all the time. Could there be a way that he turned any thoughts of her into something that seems a little more innocuous? Wouldn’t the exertion required for this turning itself show up during plug in? He went through all these tortuous, paradoxical arguments day after day – and that’s really what he’s sick of. He enjoyed thinking of Barbara – in a way, that wasn’t really the problem. The problem was his fear of rejection and embarassment. Without the balance that plugging in gave him, he started to think more and more that her finding out would be a disaster – not the opening of a door to a possibly wonderful new relationship, but a plunge into humiliation and disappointment.

Gradually he got used to living several days – weeks even – at a stretch without the charge that plugging in gave to him. And an infection spread, from his fantasies about Barbara to their adjacent experiences. He started to wonder, or realize: “if the fantasy I just had about Barbara never makes it into the mnemoscape, then maybe the donut I just had for breakfast right before that will never make it in either.” The idea that more and more of his personal experiences would never be shared, but would remain forever his alone – at first this idea brought forth within him a fascinated repugnance, then it merely fascinated him; finally it charmed him.


March 1, 2006

He did get a pay raise. His title is enhanced slightly. His work was basically the same, just …more. He became extremely busy. He frequently worked late into the evening. A lot of this work was alongside Barbara. A lot of the work they were doing was generated by the re-organization that had brought her over from the other office. They were putting together documentation for the revamped business processes that had to be put into place as a result of the reorganization. The traded at least 5 messages a day, and met each other at meetings at least every other day. A lot of the evenings that he stayed late at work were spent with her, reviewing some document line by line.

During these one-on-one meetings he caught himself gazing at her throat, and her upper arms when she took off whatever sweater she was wearing and draped on on the back of her chair. “Wow,” he thought, “I’m developing a crush here.” He thought back to the fantasties he had on the street. And the fantasies he was having now, when he was tired and let his mind drift. If he had a twinge of embarassment at the possibility of her somehow finding the first fantasy, which occured before they knew each other, how much more embarassing would it be if she found these fantasies, that he was having in the middly of their professional relationship?

This problem occupied him on his way home one day. It was odd how afraid he was over this potential embarassment, but he was. He was getting nercous, actually jittery, as he got nearer to the point in his commute where he would stop off at the plug-in center.If she discovered these fantasies right now, he doubted that he could take it. But then, t This was probably just a crush – at most an infatuation. In a few days he would be over it. If she discovered his fantasies after his feelings had faded, he could laugh it off as the amusing incident it undoubtedly was.He could wait to plug in then, until this crush went away.