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with their grime. Our living room wasn’t a particularly

venerated place, but it was very much his space, and now

it’s difficult for us to make it our own. We need to do

something, urgently; we can’t allow our living room to

disappear from the house. (In my planner for killing time:

Give new life to the living room.)

When the moment for killing time arrives, I’ll have a lot of

things in my planner. But I haven’t even started it yet. I

spend my days answering letters and responding to phone

calls: from students, acquaintances, friends who have

reappeared from the past. Everyone has something to say,

and if someone doesn’t say something, I do. If need be, I’ll

take the initiative. I search my memory in case there’s

someone left who doesn’t know; I check to see if there’s an

acquaintance who hasn’t shown any signs of life, and if

that’s the case, I’ll give her a nudge, help her get her act

together. And when I’m done with acquaintances, I’ll start

with strangers.

Any available stranger will do: the plumber, the carpenter,

the mailman, the telemarketer who phones asking for him .

. . Yes, they too will learn. “No, he’s not in.” And if they

insist: “He died the other day.”They stop insisting.

The problem is how to delay the moment when there is no

longer anything to communicate, nothing related to his