Monday, March 27, 2006

Due Date

Since midnight I've been on that arbitrary date the medical profession calls a due date. Today is the best guess of the date I will start labor. I am doubtful. I am also very tired. I am also at work. I could go home and no one would fault me; but the idea of sitting around the house waiting for my uterus to contract in a meaningful way sounds tedious and boring beyond measure. Besides, it's just not me.

I woke up this morning in the middle of a nightmare. I dreamt that I had promised a lecture to my old Job That Ate My Life. I dreamt that for some reson I told them I would lecture today, on my due date, in Nashville. But of course I had promised to lecture on a topic that I knew but had never given before, and I didn't have my slides approved. I had no power point, no handouts for the students, and no idea why they were asking me to go to and from Nashville on my due date. So I took the train to my old office to try and sort the situation out, but when I got there the building was nearly abandoned; all the workers had left and the only people still there were too busy to deal with me. I thought about going into my old space and trying to cobble together a lecture from my old notes. When I got to my old cubicle, my former supervisor had gutted all my old notes and turned the notebooks into awful scrapbooks. I woke up confused.

Some time within the next week, I'll have a baby. This entry makes no sense. I make no sense. I know what comes next: labor, birth, 12 weeks of maternity leave, the husband quits his job, in the fall he starts law school. I continue along my career path, mounting exhibits and sorting through the lost letters and photographs of people long dead. Isn't it important to know what happened, so that we can try and imagine what comes next? I'm an archivist. I arrange, describe, learn, educate, I swim in the past but did you know chemistry is more important to my job than history? If the Ph balance is off in that paper, it's all for nothing, acids will eat our memories, photographs curl and fade, and the electric hum of the internet needs constant maintence in order to be readable.

That's what I would have said in my nightmare lecture, if I had been forced to give it. History is now chemical and electrical, just like your dreams. And just like your dreams, it's all about perception. I know what comes next, in my own personal chemistry. I just don't know when the hormones and water will release, when the specific nerve connections will fire, or for how long. I know that I am tired. I know I am typing nonsense. I know the hind parts of my brain dedicated to instinct will take over soon. I know I'll still be an individual when this is all over, but I will have a new and independant little person to help along for the next couple of decades.

I know everything will be just fine. I just don't know how much longer I get to be in this window, between the projected date of birth and the actual act. While I wait, I'll fight the decay of cultural memory. After all, that's my job.

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