Thursday, January 24, 2008

Addiction as Ecotone - Part 2 - Michelle Billman

Left to Right - Michelle Billman

Missing Student’s Body Found on Golf Course. Duke Grad Student Shot to Death. At Least 33 Dead in Virginia Rampage. These are the yellow bricks I follow after the time for sleep has come and gone, fingers tapping the mouse as my eyes accept the glowing text—click, scroll, left to right, left to right, click, scroll. I’m validated. My checking—the locks at least twice, the too-big walk-in closet, the bath tub behind that opaque curtain, underneath the bed—is reasonable, responsible, a part of my daily routine. Click. My window checks, when I peer out into my sleeping neighborhood from the bottom corner of a drape or blind just to make sure, are normal, something everyone must do, surely; with these headlines you’d be stupid not to. Scroll. I make sure that no one’s hiding in the garage, stalking the back yard, or crouched underneath the bathroom sink. If the heater gives an occasional burst of cold air, I search for the opened window. Left to right. Around midnight or one, the heater’s clicks and drums start to murmur. My dog’s irregular snores whisper. The smoke detector’s green light floats like a target. Left to right.

In daylight, even though I can’t “check” things, I take inventories of which classrooms have what windows—big, small, I could fit through that, easy-to-open, first floor, second floor, how many steps to get there?—what exits—nearby doors, flights of stairs, long and bare hallways—and what ducking places—desks, tables, cabinets, where else? My inventories include people, too. A woman alone in a movie theatre, a man with a hood pulled over his head, anyone without a visitor sticker at work, crowds. Virginia Tech Gunman Identified as a Student.
I search because I didn’t see it the first time.

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