10 PRINT “Hello World!” 20 GOTO 10

Did anyone out there learn BASIC like I did, when I was 10, at a summer program at the local Catholic college? Well, the mother house that the nuns lived in has long since burned down, and the college is now a highly reputable university, but the most important fact I know about Dominican College is that that’s where I made a computer screen say Hello World! exactly they way I told it to. It was like having a puppy, which I wasn’t allowed to have. Only better. A literate puppy that didn’t pee on the carpet. I was a god.

So I wonder why, that being the early 80s in the San Francisco Bay Area, I didn’t grow up to be a computer mogul? Steve Jobs could have adopted me as his little sister. Or had a wild fling with me instead in my debauched years – he was kinda cute, in that intense sort of way that makes a geeky girl go weak at the knees.

That, friends, is one possible question to ask: why aren’t I better? or richer?  or smarter? or more accomplished? And no amount of backpedalling I might do for the rest of the week, or the next forty years, would erase the tone of self-doubt and self-deprecation that I’ve started with.

But there’s


this tree that’s just starting to bloom on the road I commute down on my trusty touring bike. I ride into the rising sun in the morning and into the setting sun in the evening, a pain in the butt if you’re trying to see anything like a pothole or a car or the broad side of a barn, but absolutely glorious if the clouds and the trees are arranged just so. The sun was setting right behind this baby-pink blossoming tree, and the blossoming part was perched above this orangey-brown wooden fence. The dark yellow sunlight blasted through the pink and onto the orange, a smash of light and shadow that my rods and cones couldn’t process, leaving me with this mishmash sense of pinky browny glow far brighter than it actually could have been. Seeing as it was a solid wood fence, you see, and light doesn’t come through solid wood fences. But still.

Fifteen minutes later, the angle of the sun had shifted, so that the sky blurred imperceptibly from blue to white to pink to orangey brown. The clouds were making the exact same colours that the living tree and the dead wood had produced for me.

I should have waved. Instead, I smiled at some passing cyclists, and they smiled back. That’s not something to be taken for granted in the stoically reserved and high-pressure world of southeast England. And I didn’t.

Now I’m going to practice my cello, and grade a paper to see how well my grading calibrates with the lecturer’s whose class it is. I might even wonder whether I would mark down the grammar of a student who writes ‘lecturer’s whose’ in an essay.