Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Right on the Dot

The Cog: Ok, I'm getting started a little bit late today, but that's all right, that's all right, I can recover. (places coffee on desk at 2 oclock. Places folder of notes to left, three pens next to it. Places stack of clean paper directly in front of self. Picks up and straightens stack by tapping it against the desk with a satisfying sound. Takes off watch and sets it down to the right. The desk is now set much like a place setting at the table, only with writing implements.)

The Cog: (consults watch) Ok, ok, fine, it's actually just turning to 9 a.m. on the dot right .... now. Great. I can start right on the dot right now.

(tick. tick.)

(The Cog sips coffee, takes an abstract from the folder and reads it. Sips more coffee. The coffee is now midway between the 2 and 3 oclock positions on the desk. She moves the coffee back to 2 oclock and stares at it. Replaces the abstract in the folder, straightens the pens in their alignment, tilts the stack of clean paper slightly, then tilts it back. Then straightens the stack by tapping it against the desk again, this time not quite so satisfyingly.)

The Cog: Ok then. Where am I starting in this argument? (The Cog gets out the abstract and reads it again. Consults the watch.)

The Cog: Nine-oh-----four. Hmm.

(The cog writes the word "concatenation" on the stack of clean paper, then crosses it out. Then writes the word again, this time in a different color.)

The Cog: Ok. O--K. Right. Right right right. Where am I starting, where am I starting? (Takes out the abstract again, stares at it. Rereads it without seeing any of the words.) (More softly to herself this time:) Right. riiiiiight. right-o. (suddenly:) Where am I starting?

(The Cog glances at the watch. It is now 9:07.)

(The Cog stares off into the distance with an expression of great concentration and slight pain, as if she might be listening to internal intestinal ailments. Then with a great burst of motion, she lists four themes.)

The Cog: Riiiiight. Ok, ok. O.K. That's where I should start. I have these four main things to say. Right. (sips the coffee.) Ok, but what order am I going to talk about these in?

(The watch ticks.)

(The Cog numbers the four themes, then crosses out the numbers, then doodles the numbers into little daisies.)

The Cog: Riiiiiight. Hmm. Right- (a long pause, as if she has forgotten she was speaking) -o.

(The watch ticks.)

(The Cog draws a concept map trying to link the four themes but this does not help produce a numbered order. The watch ticks. The Cog sips the coffee and then doodles the concept map into a large Conceptual Daisy.)

The Cog: Hmmm. Where do I go from here?

(The Cog repeats the coffee-shifting, pen-straightening, paper-tapping ritual. Consults the watch.)

The Cog: Nine ohhhhhhh-nine.

(The Cog looks at the paper, then with annoyance at the watch. The watch ticks helpfully.)

The Cog: It's a good thing I have the whole day to work on this, because I got started a little later than usual. Luckily I have the whole day, so I can get a lot of work done.

(The Cog shifts coffee, straightens pens, paper. The watch ticks even louder.)

The Cog: Riiiiiiiight. Ok, ok, right. (then louder, as if attempting to wake someone up:) Right, ok, righto righto, let's go then, right!

(The Cog repeats the shifting of coffee, pens, paper with much energy and verve.)

(The Cog stares at the paper, flicks a smidgen of definition onto a daisy petal.)

(The watch ticks.)

(The watch ticks.)

(The watch ticks slower and slower.)

The Cog: Right. Riiiiiight. Ok, right.

(The watch ticks ever slower: right, right, right, riiiiiiight.)

(Entire civilizations are born, rise through a golden age and beget empires, then diminish to but a shadow of their former selves, wreathed in nostalgia and a late-capitalist service economy. The watch ticks.)

The Cog: Right. Right-o. (re-orders the list of themes.) Riiiiiight.

The Cog: Now what?

(The watch ticks.)

(The watch ticks.)

(The Cog rearranges coffee, notes, pens, taps paper stack, then re-orders the list of themes.)

The Cog: Right?

(The Cog consults the watch. It is now 9:15.) The Cog: Dear lord!

(The watch ticks even slower.)

The Cog (to the watch) Let's get on with it, then!

The Watch: right, right, right, right, right, riiiiiiiight...

(The Cog angrily crumples up the top sheet of paper and tosses it, then moves the crumpled wad to 10 oclock on the desk. Slightly shifts the coffee so the two are in line, then rearranges the coffee, notes, pens, taps the paper straight, and does the whole process again. The Cog notices the paper wad is now slightly out of place and rearranges it.)

The Watch: right, right, right, right, right, right...

(The Cog stares at the paper. The watch ticks. The paper does nothing. The Cog rereads the abstract, then copies the paper title over onto the clean paper. The watch does nothing. The paper ticks. The Cog pulls on her hair, then rearranges the coffee, notes, pens, taps the paper straight, moves the crumpled wad, and pulls on her hair again.)

The Watch: blight, blight, blight, blight, blight ...

(The Cog looks over in annoyance. The watch behaves itself. It is now 9:21. The Cog ticks, the paper straightens itself and the coffee cools off until it is but a shadow of its former self, wreathed in nostalgia and a late-capitalist service economy.)

The Watch: right, right, right, right, right, right...

(The Cog glares at the watch. The watch smugly pretends to not notice. They now engage in a battle of wills. The paper helpfully remains blank.)

The Cog: Righto. Ok, ok. Rightok. A nap. Maybe a nap will help. That's it, righto, righto, a nap will certainly help. Yes, just a short nap. And then I can get going at 10. That's it, right at 10. Right on the dot.

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