Friday, April 29, 2005

A tiger by the tail

Verlyn Klinkenborg reflects in the New York Times about the redemptive value of installing new (Apple) software. My Tiger arrived this afternoon as promised, and I've managed to install it (the rate determining step was my getting my desktop back from my 8 yr old). I admit that I do feel renewed, if not redeemed. My calendar's to-do list seems tidier, though I rationally realize it is just as long as it was this morning (longer?). I can now make a thesaurus appear with the mere touch of a finger, and check the weather in California with a stroke of the mouse pad - there is a power in renewal.

The thesaurus is my word "lost and found" - not a place to shop for an all new vocabulary, but a thrift shop where I can exchange the outgrown skates for a pair as well-used, but better fitting. My mother taught me how to wisely shop a thesaurus when I was in 3rd grade. Mastering technique for looking up a word (first in the index, then to a page of related words) felt like a rite of initiation, rewarded at the start of 4th grade with my own copy of Roget's Thesaurus. That tattered edition still sits on my shelf, its acid-ravaged pages a mirror of my mother's increasingly fragile skin. I'm afraid to open my relic, not wanting whatever vestiges of my mother's touch that remain inside it to crumble away. My electronic thesaurus is sturdy, but can never be quite as rich in text as my first Roget.

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