Sunday, September 14, 2008

An Unwanted Journey: Day 1026 - Madmen Waiting

It's an odd experience watching a television screen on a notebook computer in a hospital room while someone else is watching that same screen in a different location in the city.

That's what is was like tonight as I waited and my wife waited in two separate locations. With the SlingBox, I pop open the SlingPlayer software application and can see whatever someone else is watching on the television specifically configured with that device at home. Either one of us can take control and switch channels, her with the actual remote, me with a virtual remote control. In fact, doing so is something like saying "Honey, I'm can't see me, but I'm here."

She was waiting for my son to finish up a late catering job in the early hours of Sunday morning. I was waiting for sleep and for the next oral pain medication to come my way. So, as she changed the channel to Bravo where Mad Men was playing, we both waited.

It felt not only weird, but ironic. Watching each other waiting, although we can't see one another. Waiting for other people, in one case because we want to provide a service, in the other case because we want to receive a service. All the while realizing that the most recent cancer bad news bears don't care one whit about how much further waiting either one of us must perform.

Is it unfair? Obviously. In fact, the diagnosis couldn't get much worse. But that doesn't change the waiting. Just because you're told your cancer is inoperable doesn't change the mundane reality of waiting for drugs, waiting for the doctor, waiting for the nurse, waiting for relief, waiting to be discharged, waiting...always waiting.

Watching Mad Men together across cyberspace just highlights the irony.

Mad Men is about the advertising game of the early 60s. It's about a world of inequality between men and women, between the haves and the have nots, between virtue and vice, between need and want. The fact that so little has changed in the intervening 45 years only serves to accentuate how strange is the world in which we live.

Imagine this - two people watching the same television without being in the same location, watching each other wait, while they are themselves waiting for the world to change, waiting for better times ahead without many physical options available to make changes on their own behalf, waiting for sleep, waiting to live, waiting for a phone call, waiting to go home, waiting to leave home...waiting, waiting, waiting.

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