At some point yesterday I closed my office door and cried for like a half an hour solid. It wasn’t really about the computer, although that was just one more thing on the list. It was about some things I’m trying to deal with on my own, which have little to do with the computer or anything else. I have joked that I’m having an existential crisis, but I don’t really know if that’s true or not.
I don’t know what’s so different today. I don’t know if I just got some junk out of my system, or what. Maybe the nice weather had something to do with it. Maybe it’s the pink cashmere shell with the satin ribbon tie (FIVE DOLLARS at the J.Crew clearance store) that I’m wearing today. Maybe it’s all of it. Maybe it’s none of it. But whatever the cause was, I kicked some ass today and got some stuff done and got some perspective and I feel much better for it.
Of course, tomorrow this could all change completely, because such is my mood lately. But for now, I feel much better.
So. Let’s go back to this failure-of-technology thing.
I never used to be a gadget geek until recently, mainly because I couldn’t afford gadgets and didn’t care to spend my money that way anyway, and didn’t need them. And then I got a cell phone.
I was very late to the cell phone game — I didn’t get my first until after graduating from college, in late 2001 to be exact. And even then I used it mainly on the road, to let my family know I was on my way or that I had arrived somewhere, or to see what we needed at the grocery store. (At my house, it’s never a question of if someone needs to stop; it’s who is stopping, and what do we need?)
I soon became more attached to the cell phone, though, because free nights and weekends allowed me to keep in touch with friends around the country, and because having a cell phone meant having a private phone line while living with my family. I had that first cell phone from 2001 until February 2004, and during that time I rarely saved numbers on the phone. When I got my second cell phone in Feb ’04, I started using the built-in phone book. So when my phone died last month, I lost all of my numbers.
Side note: If I should have your phone number and haven’t called you for a while, that’s probably why — I lost the number with the dead phone. Email me!
That sucked. Because before I started using the cell phone’s built-in phone book, I would always memorize phone numbers after about the second time I dialed them. And now, I’ve become dependent on my cell phone to remember numbers for me, and that’s no good. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’ve been slow to put numbers into the new phone.
The DVD player bugged me only because it was a planned purchase that I spent a lot of money on, and then it died two years later. I went and got one of those super-cheap tiny ones to replace it, because I won’t feel so bad if my $35 DVD player dies after a year or two.
And now the computer. I haven’t touched it since it died on Sunday. I’m kind of ambivalent about what I want to do with it, and I haven’t really had the time to sit down and start working on it. So it sits in its usual place, broken. And inside it somewhere are all the things I have cared about enough to save — mostly music, IMs, and some off-web writing I’ve done.
I’m pretty sure I can let it all go, and that I will decide to do just that and start over. Because, when it really gets down to it, I tend to be okay with throwing stuff away.
I’d be lying if I said this combination of events hasn’t affected me all on its own. The majority of my creativity is expressed in the electronic medium these days. What if I lost it all? What if I lost everything I’d written here since January of 2003? I would be absolutely devastated.
Most of my friends these days are not local, but are scattered around the country. What if I lost all means of contacting them? Between the cell phone and the computer I have lost many of their phone numbers and email addresses, and in the world we live in these days, I don’t collect nearly as many physical addresses as phone numbers and email addresses. I’ve never been good at keeping in touch anyway, but if these people I’ve lost don’t hear from me for a while, will they remember I’m here? Logic says, “of course,” but my recently fragile emotional state says, “maybe not.”
Lots of people have heard the “my computer died” story over the past couple of days, and many of them, here and elsewhere, have suggested that I might feel better if I went and bought something having nothing to do with technology, something deeply satisfying. And I’ve thought about that quite a lot. But I’m not sure what to get.
I want something small, inexpensive — something that isn’t clothing, or food, or makeup — something that will bring me joy for a long time. I have thought about books but don’t know of a really satisfying one to get. I’ve thought about a little plant, because I thought that if I could make a little plant grow, it would make me feel better, but I almost always kill plants. I have a $25 check in my bag from my birthday that hasn’t been deposited yet, so I could use that. I’m just not sure. Any ideas?