by Karen Gsteiger

Wednesday, February 4, 2004, 1:35 p.m.

Tabitha is going ape-shit in the hallway--I estimate that she's currently outside of Rebecca's office. I hope this doesn't involve me.

Wednesday, February 4, 2004, 1:38 p.m.

It does involve me.

Wednesday, February 4, 2004, 1:42 p.m.

A comma splice on page 48. A missing hyphen on page 112. A mislabeled graph in Appendix E.

The proposal has already been sent out. We are apparently having a meeting in the conference room with all proposal and editorial staff to discuss this grave matter.

I contemplate pointing out that we hardly need to go to Defcon 1 over a missing hyphen when we've sent out a proposal with doctored resumes, a completely unrealistic price schedule, and a proposed project manager who is at times reminiscent of Nero and Dennis Miller.

I decide in the end not to mention these issues. I will take the fall for the comma splice and the hyphen, but I will not--will NOT--go down for the erroneously titled bar graph. That is all John. I don't even know what the hell those graphs are supposed to signify.

Wednesday, February 4, 2004, 2:15 p.m.

In conference room. Tabitha is saying, "We all need to make sure that these proposals do not go out with silly grammatical errors. It makes us look extremely unprofessional." When she says "all" and "we" and "us," she is clearly and pointedly referring to me.

I nod with feigned urgency and suppress desperate urge to flee.

Wednesday, February 4, 2004, 2:24 p.m.

While Tabitha discusses new ways to undermine my editorial authority, I ponder whether this office would be classified as Stalinist or merely Kafkaesque.

I think that Combover Chris is leering at me. I strive to perfect my poker face.

Wednesday, February 4, 2004, 2:32 p.m.

Well now, this is the first interesting piece of information I've heard all day. Frosh is going to be fired. "We don't have time for people who don't know how to be team players," Tabitha decrees ominously. I don't know what the boy did, but it appears that he made the mistake of confiding in Rebecca. I could have told him that one should never trust Rebecca, but I didn't get a chance to during the three days he was employed here.

Wednesday, February 4, 2004, 2:35 p.m.

Definitely Kafkaesque.

Wednesday, February 4, 2004, 2:38 p.m.

Am suddenly overwhelmed by despair while grappling with The Big-Ass Fussy Printer, the Cerberus in my personal circle of corporate American hell. "Please open every drawer and turn every handle and otherwise molest me in order to find a paper jam that really isn't there. I need attention. Please?"

And for this I graduated college? I feel thicker and slower and more humorless day by day. It's too cold to breathe outside, and my bed will be empty tonight, as always.

I decide to make time travel my next Internet Research Project. (Past Internet Research Projects have included the following topics: How many celebrities have perished in helicopter accidents? The ending of Deliverance; The best way to remove blood stains; Chocolate cheesecake recipes; Was Seth Green in Newsies? [No, I was thinking of Christian Bale.])

Wednesday, February 4, 2004, 2:44 p.m.

Google asks me if I'm feeling lucky. Eh, sure.

I skip the Flash intro. I hate Flash intros. Besides, this one seemed to start off with a generic, unidentifiable picture of deep space, and floating in this starry vacuum was that photo of Einstein sticking his tongue out and E = MC2, just like that, in red Comic Sans. On the home page of Unlimited Possibilities, Limited, there is a thin, blonde, unremarkable woman wearing a plain black leotard, who, with closed eyes, seems to have her hands folded in prayer while sitting in a sort of yoga position that does not appear to be too strenuous.

"Time travel is NOT a question of physics and astronomy," I learn, "Time travel is a state of mind. For only $14.99, you can transport yourself to this state--with the power of Focused Hypnotic Meditation™"

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha--hoo boy. Who comes up with this shit?


I've paid more for useless CDs and ill-fitting clothes.

The website commands me to click on the button labeled "Next." I obey.

Wednesday, February 4, 2004, 2:51 p.m.

Picture of wholesome, vaguely ethnic man wearing white dress shirt and thin gray tie staring off into the distance with chin in hand. Is this clip art?

"Is there a moment in time that you wish you could change? A favorite memory that you would like to relive? This instant in time that you would like to recapture or change is your Pinpoint Moment®. Anyone can use Focused Hypnotic Meditation™--even a child!--although we recommend that minors seek permission from their parents or legal guardian before engaging in time travel. The hardest part of Focused Hypnotic Meditation™ is choosing your Pinpoint Moment®. Think carefully and choose wisely. Your Pinpoint Moment® selection could alter EVERYTHING! Click on 'Next' when you are ready."

Wednesday, Februrary 4, 2004, 2:52 p.m.

I've got it.

I click on "Next."

The computer informs me, "You haven't thought carefully enough. Take some more time to choose your Pinpoint Moment®. Then click on 'Next.'"

Wednesday, February 4, 2004, 2:57 p.m.

No, wait--I've reconsidered.

I click on "Next."

"Keep thinking," the computer advises. "Don't be too hasty. Click on 'Next' when you are TRULY ready."

Wednesday, February 4, 2004, 3:10 p.m.

No, I've really got it this time.

Which reminds me. It's been 83 days since the last time he's emailed me. And that was an apologetic message in regards to not having written since 110 days prior to that. We had a couple of months where we wrote nearly every day...sometimes more than once a day. And then...nothing. I just wish that I knew what exactly it is that I did--how precisely I fucked things up for the nth time. Email's usually a pretty harmless medium for me too. It's not nearly as bad as my tongue-tied phone conversations and jittery in-person interactions. I don't understand why it is that when we do talk (v. rare), we always seem to be on the verge of a fight. I don't understand how it is that I can think of him approximately 2,500 times per day, whereas I am a blip on his consciousness perhaps on a quarterly basis.

I think I know exactly where I fucked everything up--and I do mean everything, the Ur-Fuck-Up, assuming that there was anything to fuck up in the first place. I mean, what if I am--and always have been--merely an annoyance, someone to humor and then quickly forget?

All I have to go on in evidence of the contrary is an awkward hug--one that lasted 2.3 seconds longer than a purely platonic embrace.

If I could rewind my life...if my life were a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book...if I really could go back for a $14.99 donation to Paypal...that's what I would go back to.

The night where we talked--really talked for the first time--albeit drunkenly, in the harsh, falsely cheerful light of an IHOP. And then he took me home, and then we embraced, and for just a moment, the impossible seemed distinctly possible. And then I turned away.

Wednesday, February 4, 2004, 3:14 p.m.

Uhhhhhhhhhh...then what?

As I recall, I had legitimate reasons for turning away.

Wednesday, February 4, 2004, 3:16 p.m.

I've decided that when I go back, I will give him one urgent, open-mouthed kiss. Just so he knows. And then go back to my apartment, leaving history to most likely play out in the normal fashion.

Wednesday, February 4, 2004, 3:19 p.m.

But that would still change everything, wouldn't it? Next thing I know, I could wind up with an unexpected and unwanted screaming toddler. Or with a raging case of herpes.

Wednesday, February 4, 2004, 3:21 p.m.

I don't care. I don't care. I don't care.

Wednesday, February 4, 2004, 3:23 p.m.

Change of plans. When he releases me and we stare at each other tongue-tied, I'm going to look smiling straight into his eyes and ask, "Wanna fuck?"

Click. "Next."

Wednesday, February 4, 2004, 3:24 p.m.

"Now that you have chosen your Pinpoint Moment®, you will be assigned a personalized Targeting Phrase™ that will be your key to time travel! All you have to do is focus with unbroken concentration on your Pinpoint Moment® while reciting aloud your Targeting Phrase™. These actions will bring about Focused Hypnotic Meditation™, and after you have followed our instructions, you will find yourself back in time at your Pinpoint Moment®, where you will be free to rewrite or relive history as you wish.

"IMPORTANT: you must say the Targeting Phrase™ below out loud exactly 24 times. Repeating the Targeting Phase™ more or less than 24 times will cause the Focused Hypnotic Meditation™ to malfunction. Remember that you MUST focus ONLY on your Pinpoint Moment® while reciting your Targeting Phrase™ or the Focused Hypnotic Meditation™ may malfunction. Keep in mind that this particular Targeting Phrase™ will work only once; there are no refunds or exchanges. Any further attempts at time travel will require the purchase of another Targeting Phase™. Finally, please bear in mind that according to the terms of your purchase agreement, Unlimited Possibilities, Limited shall not be held liable in any way for any damages, injuries, deaths, births, or debts incurred as a result of time travel achieved via Focused Hypnotic Meditation™..."

Yeah, yeah, yeah, more legalese mumbo-jumbo follows.

"Your Targeting Phase™ is "sebus livih."

Wednesday, February 4, 2004, 3:25 p.m.

Okay. Here we go.


Tabitha enters office. "Have you reviewed the new protocol...?"


Oh shit.

Wednesday, February 4, 2004, 2:15 p.m.

In conference room. Tabitha is saying, "We all need to make sure that these proposals do not go out with silly grammatical errors. It makes us look extremely unprofessional." When she says "all" and "we" and "us," she is clearly and pointedly referring to...

Wait a minute.

God. Damn. It.

Wednesday, February 4, 2004, 2:44 p.m.

Unpleasant, yet minor, setback. No biggie. We'll just try again.

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