Thursday, August 4, 2011

In which all is not lost

I had a deadline Monday. It was for a monthly direct-mail letter that I write, one that requires considerable thought and research. I'd started on it last week, but Big Guy's mental health misadventures put a damper on my productivity.

Early Monday morning I wrote an email to my editor, saying I might not get the piece in until the next morning. And as soon as I hit Send, my brain turned to oatmeal. Lumpy oatmeal. I could not think, could not write.

The day slugged along, as I waited for news from the hospital. I offered to take my two youngest to a playground, but they preferred to bicker indoors. I lay down for a while. I got up. I tried to read, but since I'd just finished a fabulous book (Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche) nothing seemed  interesting.

The hospital still hadn't called with an update; I might as well cattle-prod myself into productivity.I went and got a tall glass of iced coffee, and sat down to work. I opened my laptop. My glass toppled over: on myself, on the sofa, on the computer.

I love the smell of coffee, though not enough to have a java-scented sofa. Fortunately, our living room furniture is upholstered in brown paisley (I have five kids; we don't do unpatterned anything), and I was wearing black pants. Whatever stains there were blended in with all the other stains. And Febreeze is my friend. A towel and a change of clothing, and we were fine.

The laptop, not so much. It went aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa and then it went zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz and then it shut down. Black screen, no response. Couldn't even re-boot. I wanted to go aaaaaaaaaaaaa and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, and bang my head on the arm of the coffee-soaked sofa, but I refrained. When you have oatmeal brain, even emotions move slowly. My despair blurped to the surface in lethargic bubbles.

Andrew came in and managed to get the computer running again long enough for me to move everything into Dropbox that I didn't already save there. So all was not lost.

By now the laptop was done with aaaaaaaaaaaaa and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. In fact, it seemed to have finished with those letters permanently. It worked just fine except for A, Z, S and D.

My password contains the letter D.

I stared stupidly at the laptop. How does a writer write without a or s or d? I closed the lid. Perhaps, like the sofa, the computer would dry out and be fine.

I took a shower, washing the last of the coffee smell off my body. I knew I was going to have to get up at 4am to finish my assignment on the kids' clunky school computer. Before I went to bed I turned the clunker on. I logged on to webmail, where I found a newly-delivered email from my editor. It said, "I'm on vacation this week. I'll look forward to seeing the piece when I return home on Sunday."

All is not lost. But the laptop is dead.



  1. My prayers will be offered up today for your family, and for your computer situation. I was feeling some stress about my own personal issues, but I see now that you are offering up to us, your readers, such wise advice even in the midst of great stress and anxiety. In return, I am offering my thanks for your efforts, for your postings, your words, your offer to help those who suffer similarly by taking emails from them.

    I am a long-time Guidepost reader, and I've read so many of your pieces that I feel I almost know your family. Thank you for sharing them with us, through thick and thin. If I could send a hug with this, I would.

    I won't forget to pray.

    ~ Dar in NY

  2. Thank you, Dar.

    Part of my way of coping is to write. I am wholly convinced that even if nothing good comes out of a situation *for me*, there may still be good in it for others.

  3. Love the sentence about despair blurping to the surface in lethargic bubbles!

    And CZ particularly appreciated the part of the story about the password containing the letter D.

    I've appreciated your resourcefulness and humor (together known as wit?) all these years, Julia, and I'm glad you have this blog so I can continue to appreciate them from afar!

    And I'm very sorry about the laptop.

  4. I work with computers. It's Murphy's law that whatever key doesn't work on your keyboard is one that will be in your password. Glad you were given an extra week.