Saturday, July 28, 2018

2084 part 1

We always went to Big Sur for Mom's birthday during the last week of September. I never had the heart to tell her that most of the Central Coast crumbled away, unable to withstand the fires and floods of 2070. Last month, Replenish and Restore reopen the area and Jake and I camp for a few days at Julia Pfeiffer. I tune in Mom, well, at least the simulacra of her consciousness that was uploaded post mortem. We remember a family trip. I must have been about eight and my brother Fletcher around ten. Having eaten an entire Olallieberry pie in Cambria, we both barfed in the backseat of the wagon on Highway One. Mom refused to drive in auto-mode and took the curves too fast. Sometimes I think that her lead foot was a micro-aggressive chicken game that she played with Dad, a gauntlet thrown down to break him. “I operate an automobile with enormous competence and I won't slow down until you admit that you're afraid.” And sometimes, the response to Dad's blurted admonitions was an increase in acceleration.

My pop outlived Mom by ten years. I could have plugged him into a replica body but I knew that he hated the idea and Mom would have for sure been thumbs down. I don't even bother to mention it to her when reps start being mass-marketed. “Mary,” I can hear her say, “you're out of your fucking mind.” Since Dad died, I talk to Mom less frequently. When I first confabbed with both of them, I noticed that they only spoke to me. They don't talk to each other. Living-bodied Mom and Dad, even after fifty years together, chattered back and forth constantly. They pretty much repeated things that they'd said a million times before but there was constant banter. It's nice to tune in for a conversation once in a while but I'm stung to realize that even though we can talk about Middlemarch and TV on the Radio, and that weird trip to Chiapas, essentially Mom and Dad are apps. A parlor trick, existing only for my solace.

I might not even be uploaded when I kick the bucket, except maybe the kids would give me a hard time. I've heard people from Dead Is Dead talking and maybe there's actually something to be said for terminating consciousness. I wonder how the kids would react if I told them that I really wanted to Die Die. When they were little they were so curious about all of my grandparents being Dead Dead. “Gosh,” I'd tell them, “People were Dying Dying for like a billion years before the first SaveMySoul. Mom got a later upgrade, a few years after the initial release. Some of the earlier versions were kind of hinky and a lot of subconscious thoughts weren't filtered. Can you imagine saying out loud most of the things you think? Right? I think that the kids of some of the first SaveMySoul clients were pretty traumatized.

Right after the Big Sur trip, things start to get tense at work. Big Mothers reduce the work week to twenty hours and we are already understaffed at the Well Being Center. Some of the staff pushes for increasing caseloads from three to four clients and others think that briefer sessions are the way to go. Gates, the assistant director says that we could do more sessions here at the Center but he's shot down. The board feels strongly that home visits are essential. There's even been some talk about reducing Contentment Assessments from three times annually to two but I'd be surprised if that ever flies. I'm pushing to use more 8th year Psych students as interns. Jake teaches upper division Psychological Wellness at UCLA and a lot of his students are more than competent but a bunch of people on the board grouse that it will take too long to supervise students. I can't push too hard, lest my objectivity is called into question and I'm accused of trying to place my partner's students.

Jake and I have a Relationship Checkup a few days after a particularly contentious board meeting at my Center. He calls me out for being more engaged with my job than with him. I agree to three weeks in Taos with our daughter Corolla and to forgo physical attendance of the International Well Being Conference in Aukland. Jake accuses me of finding my work more important than our partnership. “I'm able to prioritize,” he says. I would use the verb “whines” instead of “says,” but I hear George, our counselor, all over me for that one. Still, while Jake's teaching work is enormously important, I'm engaged in actual practice with actual people and while I would never say it out loud, despite all the years of Relationship Checks, there's still a tiny voice in me that says that my work trumps Jake's. As Dad used to say, “So sue me.” He actually remembered when there were courtrooms and lawyers. I'd ask him if he used to paint in caves too.

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