Friday, August 16, 2013

Blue screen blues

I can’t find my typewriter.

I don’t remember the last time I saw it.

It’s one of those really cool ones too. Electric. Has that pop-in cartridge with a white-out ribbon for corrections.

So every time I make ANOTHER typo, I can just pop out the ink-ribbon cartridge; pop in the white-out cartridge; re-type the error exactly as I made it to begin with, thereby obliterating the error with white-out; pop out the correction cartridge; pop in the ink-ribbon cartridge, and go, go, go!

It sounds awkward, but I remember the day, back at UCSB, when I had a rhythm with that thing.

Type, type, type; pop in, pop out, pop in. Yeah. I could rock along.

I kind of need it right now since my computer has “blue screened.” That’s a technical term for "What the *bleep* am I supposed to do now?!!"

Yes, I tried the recommended sequence of steps for recovering everything important in my life’s work, to wit: Gasping. Gasping again. Whispering, “Oh no!”  Then louder, “Oh no, no, NO!” 

Control/Alt/Delete.  Blue nothing.  Not even a Task Manager.

Stand up, turn around, sit down, cover mouth and stare.

Blue. The screen’s still blue. No icons. No words to soothe the trembling heart. Just blue, sky blue.

Breathe. Flip the surge protector off then on again.

What’s this? Hooray! A message: “Windows has failed to launch.  Well, DUH!

Do you want to a) Launch Windows in the protected mode (recommended), or b) Launch Windows normally?


Blue screen.

OK. Surge off and on.  Back through the loop.


Blue screen.

OK, I'm really scared now.  Where’s my rally cap?

I did save most of my documents on Drop Box recently. They’re floating serenely above me now. Smiling down from the cloud.

Of course, I can’t get to the cloud because I can’t get the flippin’ computer to boot up!


OK. Breathe. Call the guy. Call the Magnificent Geek who has taken his exalted place at the right hand of God. The Guy who can make it all better. The Computer Guy.

“Bring it in,” his terse response to my breathless description of this desperate dilemma.

Yes! Yes, of course! I’ll bring it in!

Put the whole machine in the hand basket I brought home from hell last time I went through this.

Drop it off in his workshop at the North Pole next door to Computer Heaven, where all sad things are made happy again.

He’ll get to it. He’ll call. Terrific. 

Now what?  Foot tapping.  Deadline looming.

And no typewriter.  Desperately seeking Plan C.

The Library!  Of course! 

So here I am facing a corner of carpeted walls, on a public computer at the public library feeling pretty cool and righteous.  The Library does that to you.  It’s so green, you know, eco-friendly.  Recycling books and computers and all. 

There is something wholesome about a Library.  A cadre of kids all wearing the same green T-shirt, in line to sit in the light in the children’s section and read books!  Women get up to peruse the shelves and leave their purses on the tables, for goodness sake.  You can’t get much more faith-in-the-goodness-of –man than the Library.

And some might argue that a writer can write anywhere – in a bus terminal for example, or a bowling alley.  And she can write on anything, right?  A crumpled and damp cocktail napkin, or a PG&E envelope, or a typewriter even.

But I’m feeling like a goldfish on the carpet, sucking air and waiting to die, if I don’t hear from the Computer Geek soon.

Hurry!  Save me!  Get me MY machine and my cozy study with all my artifacts and talismen, so I can conjure the way I know to conjure.  I need a cat to pester me and shed into the keyboard and the buzzer on the clothes dryer to give me a break.

But my sense of duty compels me to soldier on.  Pausing and pecking.  Fifty words to go.  Forty.  For you, Dear Reader, for you.

What’s that?  My cell phone?  On vibrate, of course, in deference to my upright and decent companions.  Could it be…?!!  Yes!  The Geek!  I’m saved!

Coming soon – investigative report about the dangers of computer dependency.