July 26, 2002

miles to go: 998.49 [ohshutup]

The bell peppers are lined up on the kitchen counter, next to the sink: two greens and two reds, fat and waxy and ready for the knife. On the cutting board nearby, half a purple onion has already been sliced into rings: the sweet/acidic odor permeates our tiny apartment and clings to my fingers like Avon hand lotion. Pretty soon I'm going to gore and julienne the peppers, finish slicing the onion, quarter a handful of pear tomatoes. Then I'll dump everything into the big aluminum bowl, to marinate in a bath of oil and vinegar and celery seed until dinner.

But first ... I'm going to download another blue-green textured background tile.

I don't actually need another blue-green textured background tile. I've already downloaded 43,897,621 blue-green textured background tiles today: enough to keep *FootNotes* in textured background tiles for the rest of the millenium, by my estimation. (Particularly since I only swap out the background once a month, and then only if I actually remember to swap it out.)  The truth is I don't even want another blue-green textured background tile. I've been downloading them for so many hours now, frankly, that I can't even tell the bluish-green from the greenish-blue anymore.

And yet ... I can't quite bring myself to stop.

Just one more download, I tell myself, and then I'll get off the computer. I feel vaguely sick and ashamed of myself, like a chocoholic who has gorged on trick-or-treat candy for five days running.

The pepper salad isn't the only abandoned project niggling at my conscience, while I lollygag on the Internet for the fifth day in a row.  Behind me, the vacuum cleaner stands in the middle of the living room, disembowelled and forlorn. I leapt off the sofa and started vacuuming as soon as David left for work this morning -- filled with all of that lovely, optimistic *first-caffeine-of-the-morning* ambition -- but as soon as I turned on the vacuum cleaner it began to spew huge, billowing clouds of dust into the air. Within seconds, the entire living room was covered with a layer of fine gray soot: David's guitar, the sofa, my stack of photo albums, the antique Coca-Cola bottles sitting on the windowsill. (It looked quite a bit like the hood of my Dodge Dart Swinger, the morning after Mt. St. Helens blew up.) Right away I suspected Full Vacuum Cleaner Bag Syndrome. I unplugged the vacuum cleaner and opened it up to check the bag ... and sure enough, it was stuffed almost to the point of screaming. So off I went to look for a fresh #S7-3. I found the vacuum cleaner bags exactly where they were supposed to be, under the kitchen sink next to the Hefty bags and the laundry detergent -- I started to pull one out, happy that we'd had the foresight to stock up -- but while I was rummaging around beneath the sink, looking for the vacuum cleaner bags ... I suddenly remembered bike shoes.

Wasn't I planning to look up bike shoes on the Internet this week?

Why, yes. I do believe I was.

The next thing I knew I was sitting in front of the computer again ... pepper salad abandoned, vacuum cleaner bags forgotten ... navigating the Performance Bicycle website trying to figure out how a Woman's 8-1/2 Extra-Extra-Wide translates into cycling shoes. (Whut the hell is a "size 47," anyway??)  I'm not planning to buy shoes online -- The Great Nonrefundable Helmet Fiasco last month taught me a valuable lesson about buying cycling gear online -- but I want to at least do some research on the subject ... especially before I invest in a pair of shoes more expensive than that old Dodge Dart Swinger of mine.

That's what I told myself, anyway: I'm just going to do a little "research."

It'll only take a minute.

Seven hours and a second pot of Sumatra Dark Roast later, I still haven't learned anything new about bike shoes ... but I know everything there is to know about bunions, alpha hydroxy skin creams, graves of the famous (and the not-so-famous), cycling nutrition, cheap phone cards, 'zine directories, pet psychics, nubuck leather, Ruth M. Arthur collections, the American Idol message boards and the difference between progesterone and progestin. Plus I've ordered two new suits and a couple of blouses, I've signed up for another doomed writing project I don't have time for AND I've fired off a bunch of Classmates.com e-mail to random people I haven't seen in thirty years!  (Won't my cousin Chellaigne be surprised to hear from *me*?) And of course I now own more blue-green textured background tiles than any other human being on the planet.

It's amazing, isn't it, how quickly we fall back into the old familiar patterns?

I haven't spent my entire vacation week plunked in front of the computer, of course. I walked back and forth to the laundry room a couple of times, earlier in the week. I went to the grocery store with David on Wednesday, and then we went out and got cheap Chinese for dinner last night. And I haven't been completely unproductive, either. I colored my hair. I burned a CD, mostly twinkly Celtic harps and groovy Gregorian chants. I read half a Stephen King I've only read twice previously. I talked to two out of three Tots, and I almost talked to my mom. Still ... I haven't accomplished a tenth of the stuff I promised myself I was going to do during my precious week-off from work, and I'm feeling faintly disgusted with myself as a result. I've had no motivation, no energy, no self-discipline. Without the tether of a regular schedule, this week, I've bobbed aimlessly around the Internet universe ... clicking from one useless website to another until my eyes are burning and my neck is aching and my mouse hand has shrivelled into a permanent claw. I'm the lab rat who ignores the food button in favor of the cocaine button, over and over again.

Except that these days, of course, my drug of choice is Google.

As the final blue-green textured background tile finishes downloading to our hard drive, I finally summon up the strength to click the Earthlink icon and sever my connection to the cyber world. It makes the the familiar twinkle-twinkle-plunk sound ... and I am unplugged.

Time to finish making the salad.

I pick up one of the green bell peppers, and my thumb pokes right through a soft moldy spot in the skin. The pepper is rotten. On closer inspection, I see that all of the peppers are rotten. (Jesus. How long WAS I on the computer, anyway??)  Disgusted, I dump them into the trash. So much for pepper-and-onion salad! This was going to be the centerpiece of our Friday night supper -- along with cold tarragon chicken breasts and a nice little lemon sorbet I bought at Safeway earlier this week -- and now all I'm left with are chicken breasts. And a couple of sliced onions. And some interesting cheese that Jaymi and Joel sent us as an anniversary present last weekend ... and a bag of that Arborio rice that David likes so much ...

Hang on while I look up a chicken recipe on the Internet, OK?

It'll only take a minute.

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~ nil bastardum carborundum ~

i DID sign off long enough to call you back. twice.
maybe we can try again this weekend?