Friday, November 23, 2012

Problem solving, again

About a week ago I came home and Andrew sat me down and said sadly, "I broke your computer." It was the sort of news that leaves one stunned; there was nothing to say, nothing to feel. It just was. He'd tripped over the adapter cord and the laptop became a floortop. The cord separated from the adapter, leaving part inside.

I do have laptop insurance. I've had enough laptop woes in the past four years that I paid the ridiculous fee to allow me to take the machine in and get it repaired locally, free. But having to use the insurance was too depressing a thought; I let the laptop sit for a day or two before doing anything. I pounded out the piece for which I had a deadline on the kids' clunker.

Then one afternoon I had a bit of time alone in the house (alone in the house!) and I picked up the laptop. It occurred to me that the only known problem had to do with the power source. So I got a pair of needlenose pliers and with a surgical attitude eventually succeeded in removing the piece jammed into the laptop.

I looked at it, and looked at the adapter. I tried putting the pieces together, but no dice. And then it dawned on me: I did not have a broken laptop, but a broken adapter.

I looked up the cost of a new one. It was under $20.

Sometimes, y'know, problems aren't as big as you think they are.

*        *        *        *

On Saturday I went out to Long Island to help my college roommate with the estate sale for her mother's house. It's the kind of house I always dreamed of growing up in: huge and old and full of odds and ends that appeal to one's sense of quirky beauty. The mom, Dot, was a character. Her basement was a giant workshop, complete with barrels of wood and power tools. There was a separate sewing room on the third floor, and large bedrooms for each child (my roomie's had its own bath), and hallways that must be at least eight feet wide. I have fond memories of staying overnight after going to the ballet with Magpie, and of being retrieved from the clutches of Kennedy Airport when a standby flight to Europe didn't happen. Dot's guest room was a massively better choice than hanging out overnight in an empty terminal.

Magpie has been my friend for decades. She is, in fact, the person who taught me how to stay in touch with people. She was persistent in calling or writing a few times a year, even when we were in different cities or countries. It took a long time before I came to appreciate this. I was content to wander through life being friends with whomever happened to be sharing my current path. It hadn't really occurred to me that long-term friends are different than short-term friends. My life is much richer because of Magpie.

Sometimes, y'know, we don't know we've got a problem until we discover the solution.

*        *        *        *

Yesterday I received a distraught phone call; it was Eldest, who had just awoken. Unbeknownst to anyone else in the family, she was scheduled to come home for a surprise Thanksgiving visit. Her bus was at 8:30am. It was 8:08. 

"Are you packed?" I asked. No, but her needs for a 2-day visit were minimal. 
"Do you have cash?" Yes.
"Go down to the street and get a cab to the bus station. There won't be any traffic, and you just might make it."
She texted me at 8:34 that she was on the bus. Whew!

I have missed Eldest terribly this fall. She has had a difficult semester. There are some courses at her school which should be labelled "ALL CONSUMING" in the course catalog, and she has two of them this term. So she hasn't called much. At the same time, I've had my own stresses, and have wanted to hear her voice more.

Yesterday the family sat down to eat, and Andrew was in the process of giving thanks, when the doorbell rang. Andrew asked, jokingly, "Did you invite a guest I didn't know about?"

I grinned and said yes, opened the door, and Eldest walked in. There were gasps of joy, and the entire family got up from the table to hug her.  Seeing her here and seeing how ecstatic everyone was made it the best day in a long, long time. 

Sometimes, y'know, we can solve problems, at least temporarily. That is a very wonderful thing, a thing to give thanks for and rejoice in. 


  1. I really look forward to your posts and this one was such a happy one all the way around. Happy day after Thanksgiving.

  2. Your posts are always something to revel in and how you handle life and the roadblocks that come to all of us. Have a wonderful holiday season.

  3. You don't know how much your blog lifts me up. I have a mentally challenged child and you are such a source of inspiration on how you overcome life's problems. It helps me to cope. Thank you so much for taking the time to write about your challenges. I am sure you are helping more people than you will ever realize.

  4. and my life is, has been and will be richer because of you. love you.