A feeling for timelines.

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

Ten years ago today the original iPod was introduced. (Ours is on a shelf next to a Brownie camera in our dining room.) Sixty years ago last Thursday the CBS ‘eyemark’ logo created by William Golden and taken and ran with by legendary CBS design guy Lou Dorfsman was introduced. (Dorfsman’s book about his CBS design career is in our downstairs bathroom.) Nine days ago the newest iPhone, the 4S, became available for sale in the US (and a handful of other countries…we watched the rain-soaked first adopters outside the Apple Store in downtown Montréal.) Four years ago last Wednesday Sammy and I were in “our” Apple Store picking out her desktop machine, which in some ways still looks and “feels” new. In 1999 on October 23rd we were in CompUSA (where? wha?) picking out her blue-and-white G3 desktop, which is…well, I have no idea what happened to it. That day “feels” as if it’s long, long ago. But our data stream reports we had sushi with Bill, Morgan, and Miranda after picking up the machine.

I can string all this data out on a timeline and it still doesn’t “feel” like a linear progression that makes any kind of sense. It’s more like a half-hearted attempt to line up Billy Pilgrim’s unstuck jumbled bullet points of an existence. Our modern digital devices say we were here, or there, at discrete moments. On this day in 1992, we were in Little Rock Arkansas, and while archaeologists met, Bill Clinton’s war room moved him closer to the White House in rented space just down the street from our hotel. We saw Jim Carville in the bar. The next day, we’ll eat at a Hunan restaurant in Benton, Arkansas. Last year on October 23rd we went to Trader Joe’s and spent $39.27. Some of that on chocolate-covered almonds, I don’t know.

And a year or two from now, I can pull out my phone and ask “Siri, where was I on this day in 1977?”

And it’ll still feel completely abstract.