Last Thursday saw the death knell of my laptop. The hard drive began to sing, and singing turned into whining, and whining turned into grinding, and all in the course of about five minutes. The laptop doctor will have it back to me in a few days, and my files are retrievable off the backup unit.
My Patient Husband remarked about how strange it was that my computer could die a horrid death and I could carry on so seamlessly. Once I got all my passwords back in place, I could access my email via web browser on his computer, and once I could do that, I was able to retrieve or guess passwords for most of my online sites (except for the Delphi one. Anyone who visits here from there, please send my regrets. I’m not ignoring you.)
Back when I was in college, hard drive failure would have brought about heart-failure in me. Nowadays it was an inconvenience. The joys of a multi-computer household.
(At the same time, we actually went down one more computer because we got rid of the obsolete one the Kiddos used for playing games and doing homework. We decided it wasn’t necessary to have four computers in the house, and that one was the easiest to rehome.)
My files are here. My email is here. My weblog is here. Why, then, can I not think?
Because you’d figure it would be easy to just hop onto the new computer, and using exactly the same programs, take over where I left off. Except it’s not. I sit at the desk where my Patient Husband’s Computer resides, and my brain goes blank.
It’s a host of things. I’m facing the wall. It’s a little darker here. The keyboard is at a different height. The mousehand is different. The entire interface is subtly different on his computer.
But that’s it: subtleties. The dock is at the bottom rather than the side. And yet, all these tiny changes render me unable to think. I had to write a query letter to a new agent, and I spent ten minutes trying on different sentences for one paragraph before I finally deleted the sentence entirely and sent it without.
I feel I’m wearing blinders. It doesn’t make any sense, but I feel trapped.
My Patient Husband says it’s muscle-memory that’s different. his keyboard is slightly different than mine (again that slightness) and because the interface is so clunky on a computer to begin with, those slight differences get in the way of an easy transition.
I’m wondering if it’s not less of a sense of ownership. And the fact that he’s customized the life out of his computers so often that even on my own non-customized account on his computer, I feel I’m living in his space. I can’t really relax here. I might do something. Like sitting on your Great Aunt Zelda’s couch, the one covered in plastic slipcovers, drinking tea from a china cup the width of one molecule: I’m tense. I should be fine, but I’m not.
If you were to lend me a pen with green ink and a notebook with non-standardly lined paper, I could write anyhow. I could read your Bible and be comfortable doing so, although I’d notice (and mentally correct) the differences. But this interaction is more complex. The closest I can come is to when I used to work for a rental car company: for the first five minutes in any of the cars, I’d feel I was wearing blinders, uncertain what the car would do for me.
I’ve been using this computer for days, not minutes, and it’s still “fighting” me. I’m afraid I won’t have brilliant weblog entries until my beloved comes home from the computer doctor. I just can’t think.