To high heaven

Five service appointments and uncounted phone calls later, Time Warner Cable has classified my digital wire servicing as “complete,” and instead has informed me that a “huge outage” hit New York City last Monday-Tuesday, the aftereffects of which I will be noticing for an indeterminate amount of time this week.

All I know is that I’ve had little to no reliable Internet access since mid-July, and as I type this, my wireless hub keeps blinking into “no access available” for no good reason. When I manage to get through to my Internet connection, things are sluggish at best.

I’m thisclose to moving to DSL for a while. Even its unimaginably frequent outages were more tolerable than what I’m going through this summer.

Please contact me if you have or have not had a similar experience. Oh, and call me on a telephone if you want to reach me with any expediency. Doesn’t look like I’ll be online much this week.

Mostly offline

FYI: I haven’t had working Internet access since Thursday and will not until this coming Wednesday at the very earliest. The cable lines that feed into my apartment are fried, and despite the widespread existence of wifi, I can’t seem to get anything in my apartment. (I write this scrunched against the hallway window.)

If you need to get in touch with me this week, please be patient with email or give me a call.

Helmut

My macroeconomics professor told us a great story last class about his brother, Helmut. Helmut was a banker on Wall Street, in a decently successful but nondescript career, when his firm was bought out and mass layoffs upended his job.

Helmut took some time off, and enjoyed it until his wife said, “Helmut, this is ridiculous, you have to do something with your time.” So Helmut got a certification and began driving a school bus. It made him happy, being behind the wheel all day and taking the kids to school and to ball games.

After a while, though, his wife said, “Helmut, you really need a better job, the neighbors are starting to talk about us.” So Helmut shrugged and got behind the wheel of a Lincoln Town Car. Same idea, a little more slick. He could still tool around all day and enjoy it.

Helmut now owns a limousine company with 36 drivers, a 28-car fleet, and a dispatching center. He calls himself an entrepeneur.

Follow your dreams. I’m working on mine.

My grandmother, too

My father had me read “Are You My Mother?” in the New York Times Magazine this evening, a wistful piece about the author’s diminishing Alzheimer’s patient of a mother. The piece—centering around the mother’s ability to remember songs long after she had forgotten everything else—is a near perfect mirror of my grandmother’s recent history.

Unlike Floyd Skloot and his mother, though, my grandmother has been rather pleasant and good-natured through the later phases of her disease, and even as she dwindled she has left behind memories for the rest of us, things I’m going to remember sooner rather than later, for her sake and ours.

For example: Grandma, age 82, playing Scrabble with me in her one-bedroom assisted-living facility, slowly fading in awareness, but still with a dish of M&M’s on the pedestal next to the table, her hand diving in for a quick fix of chocolate every time she walked around the corner, teaching me rather definitively where I got my sweet tooth.

And Grandma, not wanting to stop driving, until she got lost enough in her Alzheimer’s that we could take her keys without her noticing, and we could count with a laugh the 13 separate dents and scratches her skilled driving had accumulated.

And Grandma contentedly eating the sweets we bring her in the home, even when we make a mistake, like the day we brought her a pastry with raisins and Grandma tossed each and every raisin onto the floor as she ate.

And Grandma, still singing songs and playing the piano, even when she doesn’t know what day it is.

And Grandma, eyebrows raising high with recognition, startledly declaring, “He’s my son!” when the words “Donald” or “Marvin” penetrate her consciousness.

And Grandma meeting my now-wife for the first time, a story that still brings a tear to my eye, as it did the day it happened.

Grandma will be 91 this October, at least ten years into her Alzheimer’s, more than five years confined to a wheelchair at a home, several years beyond recognizing her family, a tiny, shriveled version of her once-strong self, and somehow perfectly healthy and, as far as we can tell, rather at peace with herself and the world. I will see her Thursday, and it will be sad, yet it will still make my day, and I will still smile.