Dorothy Linís Room
[Alt Yorke]




In New York, there is a narrow hallway with four doors, three of which are closed. That leaves one openóDorothyís door. Her room measures ten feet by thirty with a wall window overlooking Riverside Drive. People say if you leave your car there at night, thereís a thirty percent chance itíll be broken into. Dorothy says thatís bullshit. The room affords a bed, a couch (futon), a desk, a bookshelf and even a little space to twirl around in. Dorothy was twenty-seven. What caught my attention was the curious presence amid a perfectly cluttered desk of some very high-tech equipment, the exact nature of which is beyond my ability to explain. I can, however, report there are monitors, a head set, boxes which look like little Javatransports from Star Wars, and a few other very shiny things. Dorothy Lin is not Agent 99. On the floor beside the heater (window side) is a gathering of chipped, white paint and particles. Above the heater, on the window sill, there are Smurfsóa quartet of Smurfs have all to themselves what must be a good two feet pure Manhattan window sillóthe closest thing being a little wind-up gorilla, that presumably, at an earlier time could do more than just one flip, although now he requires a little physical encouragement. Dorothy says itís me. Apparently, I donít know how to wind it.

So thereís both serious and silly stuff. How can this be? The most straightforward and likely true explanation is that while Dorothy Linm enjoys a healthy amount of disorder, she also embraces new technology, probably as a means to an end. hese days itís not very hard even for the most old-school of careers, to end up needing a few modern gadgets to keep up. Safety-lock needles, a purer isomer of sodium pentathol, LAN-line access for reporters in the viewing booth to check email before, during and after. Dorothy Lin is not John Wilkes Booth. And she ainít no damn reporter. She is doing an internship at NPR. And so obviously she derives no special satisfaction from these high-tech gadgets and likewise, could care less about the pile of chipped paint on the floor. She does what her job needs, what America needs. And America needs her to be in New York City right now, a few blocks from Columbia University. In other words, this is just the way her apartment looks.
But what if there were another explanation. What if there were a balance between high and low-tech. What if there had to be? For every West 125th, there is East 125th. Cold got to be. For every extra megahert of power on her desk, there must be somewhere in the room, a compensatory relic of an age before progress. Tucked away in a drawer, a hand-written letter from a friend. She did say I wasnít the only one. In another drawer there is a pile of silver, always modern-looking CDís, sharpie-titled, and arranged as though you had taken a stack of fifty blank CDís and just slid it right off the pole into the drawer and then open and closed the drawer a few times wildly. The upside down trapezoids and head set are partially obscuring a series of sketches of robots, made with a pencil. The robots look as though they belong in age that was going to happen since about 1950.

And so I go back to the Smurfs. On second look, I now see the Smurfs are not just lying around randomly as if knocked over by a miniature wind. Orchestral Smurfs, perpetually re-enact or even just enact a scene as befits their own blue, two-inch nature. Okay so this, along with the colored pieces of paper on the wall in various entropy-defying patterns, is proof she does care about some things. But how does she decide which ones? How can I predict? I'm wondering about the pile of paint, the pile of white by the window sill. Is this the indifference we need to survive? She may just not have a dustpan. But the pile is pretty damn high? Is it part of the enactment? I wonder. Or is it just a means to an end. A six month lease. A stint. Like the fancy equipment. And nothing more. If it can't be wound-up, or bent good or colored in, or thrown for a loop-d-loop. Then leave it. She never cared about it. I wonder. If I ever see her again, I could ask her.

[2003]
While a lethal-injection machine exists, and was once used by several states, most states now opt to perform the injections manually due to the fear of mechanical failure.

Essays      Home