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⚡ July 1, 1999

First Story 🐌

A page from the ffrench calendar.

12:16 p.m. Time to turn all the calendars, all five of them in my chalked area of responsibility: the Hillel one on the fridge, the diet one on my Zip drive counting off how many days I’ve been good and faithful, the Schwa on my wall, the fancy perpetual design one next to it so I won’t forget birthdays and anniversaries so often, and most important: the fabulous ffrench family silkscreen in the kitchen, pride of place, that basically rules my world and determines our general fate.

So many things to do. Plus, I have to make a new HyperCard stack for my electronic journal for July, and now that I’ve committed to this web journal of the waves, I have to make a new archives page that includes the old one, as well as finally! I’ve figured out how to divide this production into folders in HomePage, so now I have to have a folder for July, with the proper icon, of course.

I’ve chosen this one:

A Fourth of July top hat icon.

Perfect, no? It was a messy day, indeed, when this writer, loaded down with stacks of index cards, file folders, labels, onionskin, tabs, inks, sharpened pencils, sticky notes, paper clips and all the comforting, clanking various tools of the trade, collided head-on with the Macintosh and its friendly little HyperCard giveaway. “It’s just like index cards, see … “ the helpful guy at the McGraw-Hill computer store said. “Lookit – you just copy and paste your text here, into this Rolodex-like form, pfffft!”



Couldn’t be easier. Fragments and scraps and bits that went nowhere on paper suddenly took on a hyped-up life of their own on the computer, what with cross-referencing, printing-out, and multiple copies; I’ve never been the same since. People are terrified to see the levels to which I’ve gone to organize my Stuff, and indeed, I have questioned my mental health on occasion myself.

The good thing about this new development was that I was busy. The bad thing – I was having a hard time going from the dynamics of writing, pushing a button on a stack, being someplace else, writing some more – well, the bad thing has been that it has become very hard to go back to the tradition of linear storytelling, 10- or 12-point Courier, pages all stacked neatly in the manuscript box, and off to the publisher. If you use the newer Photoshop program, you know the sort of sad feeling you get when you’re ready to save and it sometimes asks you if you’re sure you want to flatten the layers? All those lovely layers and layers of textured work? That’s the same feeling I get trying to go from what’s on the computer to what belongs in the FedEx box.

Yet, the linear story is still the only story there is, thanks to the iron grip of time. The second you’ve got a couple of people gathered together with their faces turned toward you, no matter where you’ve been or who you are, you’re still going to have to tell them the story from the beginning. And then what happened? And then? No matter how many cul de sacs and dead ends you explore, you’re still stuck on the path of time. You can carve it in stone or code it in HTML, but in the end, there’d better be an end.

As it turned out, of course I bought the Macintosh. Who could resist it? The nice salesmen threw in a bonus, however, which almost wrecked everything. I’m a writer, remember? If somebody drops a cookie on the sidewalk by my front gate, I’m out there with a whisk broom so I can avoid the hard work of actually writing something. If there’s a baby crying next door, I’m there. Soup to make? I’m on it. And so, after showing me how to work the mouse and fill and empty the cute little trash can and aha! Clean Up the Desktop, the kind and generous salesman showed me what he was really doing there in the store for every waking second that he could steal: he was playing Tetris.

He gave me Tetris, damn him, damn him.

And that was just the beginning.

Middle? What middle? Where? What’s happened to the time?

In the end – you know how this story goes – in the end, if I were ever to have my life back, I had to throw you-know-what in the you-know-where. And all its lousy little back-ups, too.

Trash can icon.

goodby Tetris

If you would like to learn more about Dolphin Studio, or have a ffrench family calendar of your own, check out Crispina’s web page or just email me and I will send you the info. You’ll be glad you did.

Meanwhile, expect me to rave about how great the calendar is each and every month at this time. I really can’t help myself. 🐔

Tomorrow – is it time to get in the real Game?