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2005-07-13 | 2:04 a.m.

Our DSL comes and goes. We reboot, turn things off and on, check cords. We tap our heels together three times and say, There's no place like home. There is no pattern to what works and what doesn't. I am reminded of the times I've planted a wire coat hanger in a television set, then--ever the optimist--crumpled aluminum foil around it. Then hung on to it until my arm got tired. Then tried to sneak off. Then, startled by white noise, grabbed it for dear life.

I am reminded of people hand-cranking their Model T's. Or Model A's. Was it both?

My Dad was driving when he was eleven. It helped him get girls, I reckon. 1936.

There is too much to do tomorrow and I should be in bed. Criminy comes home from her extra week with the grandparents. It will be hot like today and I will be cranky and we'll both be overtired. Add to this four more kids and two doctor's appointments, twenty minutes apart, in two different cities located 45 miles apart. This is the kind of word problem that Felony wishes she would get more often in math. Actually, she wants the classic type that she's seen in the movies, the kind that begins, "If a train leaves the station at noon going 45 miles per hour, and another train..."

I got Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason from Netflix and Felony watched it about six or seven times, so I dug out my copy of the BBC's Pride & Prejudice mini-series for her to compare notes. I thought it might be a little difficult for her (she is nine) but after a bit of context in the beginning, she didn't need any more help from me. She started watching it at about 9:30 p.m. Sunday night and was finished by Monday mid-afternoon. This is a boxed set of six videotapes, mind you.

The child is a media consumer in a way that scares me. She can hear a pop song on the radio and tell me, scene for scene, what the video was like, even if she's only seen it once. She'll also have the lyrics down and be able to break the song and video down into their component parts and then choreograph it. She manages to be musical without ever having had training. (That has to change, I know.)

It's weird, I'm telling you. I look at her and think, What are you, Madonna?

My mother has always said she hoped one of the kids would inherit her father's talent for music. Apparently he could pick up any instrument and play it. I don't necessarily think Felony should feel indebted to her great-grandfather, but I do flatter myself by thinking that her talent represents the collision of Daddy's math with Mama's language. You know--his peanut butter, my chocolate.

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