Excerpt from I See You Made an Effort by Annabelle Gurwitch, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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I See You Made an Effort

Compliments, Indignities, and Survival Stories from the Edge of 50

by Annabelle Gurwitch

I See You Made an Effort
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2014, 256 pages
    Feb 2015, 256 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Suzanne Reeder

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Print Excerpt

I See You Made an Effort

My computer was moving sluggishly. A year ago, upon pressing the start button, my machine swiftly jumped to attention. Now the familiar sight of documents dotting the photograph of my thirteen-year-old son was replaced by a black bar inching across a dull gray expanse, like an octogenarian with a walker creeping through an intersection. Then the software failed to load altogether. It was going to take a stroke of genius to get it working again.

The Glendale Galleria Apple Store is staffed by a crew whose average age could be summed up as: if you have to ask, you're too old to want to hear the answer. After checking in, I am told my personal genius will meet me at the Bar.* Homo genius are outfitted uniformly in T-shirts announcing their membership in an elite tech-savvy species. Mine sports a headband, which artfully musses his hair. He is wearing a name tag that reads "AuDum." I ask him how he pronounces it.

*Word on the street is Apple wants to hire more women, but go to your local store, and you'll notice that the majority of the Geniuses are male.

"Is it a creative spelling of the first man, Adam? Is it a Sanskrit chant—Auuuduuuum? A percussive sound?"

"No," he replies. "It's pronounced autumn, like the season."

"Are you in a band?"

"No, my mother gave me that name."

"You belong to a generation of great names," I tell him. I am thinking of the kids whose instruments I check out every Friday afternoon in the music department at my son's school. Each student's name is more interesting than the next: Lilit, Anush, Reason, Butterfly, Summer and Summer Butterfly, which seems like both a name and a tone poem. I make sure to repeat their names before wishing them a good weekend, reasoning that in classes of forty-five students, this might be the only moment in their school day when they get individually recognized. Or maybe I'm doing it because it's just fun to recite their names out loud. Coming as I do from a generation of Mandys and Mindys, Lisas and Leslies, AuDum's name is an instant clue that my Genius and I are separated by decades in which progenitors have gifted their offspring with intriguing names.

AuDum begins talking about his mother and I hold my breath, wondering if he will say that she is my age. Thankfully, he says she's a bit older, sixty-two. She's a speech pathologist who lives in Albuquerque and he admires her work. I am charmed by his obvious affection for his mother. He has been well cared for, I think, as I notice that he has good teeth. Braces? Maybe not, but definitely regular dental care. As he examines my computer, he tells me my hard drive is dying.

"But it's so young—it's only a few years old."

He explains that computer years are like dog years times three, making my computer only slightly younger than I am.

"But there were no outward signs. It was doing just fine until recently."

"Nobody knows exactly why computers fail," he tells me. "It's not like people, who have a steady decline—the end can come without warning. You're catching it just in time," he says, adding, "do you have an external hard drive?" I tell him I do, thinking that if my Apple Time Machine* weren't the size of a wallet I would jump inside it and go back in time so I could be his age. While I was there, I would also correct a few of the numerous errors in judgment I've made in my almost fifty years on the planet.

To start with, I would change all my PIN numbers, secret passwords, and security codes to the exact same thing.† I also went door-to-door to register voters for John Kerry in 2004, made phone calls for John Edwards in 2000, and took pottery classes after the maudlin melodrama Ghost, with Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze, came out in 1990. I'm not sure which was the biggest misstep, but a trip back in time could, at the very least, keep half a dozen ill-formed ashtrays out of California landfills.

Excerpted from I See You Made an Effort by Annabelle Gurwitch. Copyright © 2014 by Annabelle Gurwitch. Excerpted by permission of Blue Rider Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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