Thursday, March 02, 2006

No Talk of Rules

I had my Using Margaret Atwood class last night and the guy who loves rules was absent. Without him there was no talk about what could and could not be done. That allowed us to have an interesting conversation about the use of future tense (I/he/she will) and conditional (I/he/she would) and how it can be quite powerful. We tried to think of a short story that was written entirely in future tense but couldn't. We wondered if it is possible to write a successful story in such a manner. If you, kind reader, know of such an example, I'd appreciate the tip! I also worked more on my emergency room story. The assignment is to tell a story in something other than A-B-C fashion. Here's what I have so far: I try not to run from my car into the emergency room. Try to be calm. Try not to shake. I wait my turn at the desk. When the nurse behind it looks up at me I try to smile, be pleasant, keep my voice steady. "I got a call from the police that my husband was in a car accident and brought here." My heart is pounding. She must be able to see how terrified I am. "What's his name?" "Weinberg, Jeff," I tell her. She types in his name and looks at her screen for too long. "I'm sorry, but he's not here," she says. "But the police officer said this is where the ambulance was taking him." She looks at the computer again, asks the other nurse next to her if he knows anything about a Jeff Weinberg. He shakes his head and looks sympathetic. "Where is he then?" I ask. I must look like I'm about to lose it because without a word both nurses jump into action, calling emergency rooms all over the city to find my husband. He's not in any of them. I feel dizzy and I can't breath. If this were a movie I'd faint and wake up on the leather sofa of a kind, elderly doctor. My husband would be leaning over me with a Band-aid on his forehead and his arm in a sling. We'd kiss and laugh at the horrible mistake. But this is not a movie. The nurse pats my hand, tells me it will be okay. She'll find him. She starts calling emergency rooms in the neighboring county. The people moving around me leave blurred trails behind them. Sound is muffled except for the nurse's voice. I wonder if I misunderstood the police officer? I had been scrubbing the carpet where Jeff had left muddy boot prints. We'd argued about it that morning. He said he'd clean up the mud after he got home from work. But after looking at it all day I couldn't stand it any longer. I wanted to make him feel even worse because I had cleaned it up. While I scrubbed I worked myself up into an angry fit. When the phone rang I thought it was going to be him explaining why he was so late. I got ready to yell at him. But instead of Jeff on the phone it was Officer Mitchell. For some reason I expected him to say Jeff was in jail for speeding or something and I had to come pay his fine. If Jeff thought I was mad before-- "Jeff has been in a car accident," is what Officer Mitchell said instead. At first I didn't get it. I thought I'd have to go pick him up because he wrecked the car. I didn't think I could get any angrier, but I did. **** More to come, I hope. And if you have stuck with me this far, here is a link to an article about a new book that argues RFID (radio frequency identification) might be the mark of the beast and a sign of the end times. I think RFID is not an entirely benign technology, but I don't think it's time to dig out my apocalypse party hat yet.