My MacBook died a few weeks ago but I didn't get sad about it until the other day. It all started with a weird 8-bit-looking checkered pattern that would show up on my screen and lead either to strobing or an all-out freeze. Both required a restart, but then my computer stopped booting all together. I checked it into the Genius Bar, slightly worried about switching to my boyfriend's older, slower computer for the next week and how it would impact my work. But at the same time, I was mostly OK with it -- I didn't have a choice, really, and I figured it'd be nice to spend a period of time moving back and forth to a desktop, instead of being chained to a laptop like I usually am. And it really was -- I found that having to get my ass up and work meant I actually worked while on my boyfriend's iMac, as opposed to the usual surfing/writing/brain-wandering that I do while working on my laptop from the couch (this method can make posts take several hours longer than they should). This is not a new discovery. Obviously, you're supposed to have a physical work space that differs from your living space, but there's a difference between being familiar with a cliche and understanding why a cliche is a cliche. Without the potential for distraction shining silvery at me in the corner of my eye, I could pay more attention to movies and books and my boyfriend. Duh, right? Same old story: life still very much on the grid, but a little less enmeshed.
I expected to get my computer back before Labor Day weekend, which I was to spend at my mom's house in Jersey. When I found out I wouldn't, thanks to a part that needed to be ordered and blah blah blah, I despaired (I pleaded with the Genius Bar worker to put a rush on my computer, my voice actually trembling). But that despair quickly faded, too. What my life's continuing computerlessness meant was that it would basically be impossible to work during my mini-vacation...which is exactly the point of a mini-vacation. Viewed in that way, I liked the idea of it staying over a hundred miles away from me. I always relish the time I spend on airplanes after my laptop battery has run out and I have no other choice but to spend a few hours not working. Work-free guitlessness is bliss, a welcome alternative to all those guilt-ridden times that I could be working but am not. Physical impossibility is the only antidote to the heavily connected lifestyle. And you know, it was really great to go to bed and wake up being only concerned about the book I was reading (Mockingjay, which was more devastating than any temporary loss of technology and Linda Lovelace's Ordeal, which was a crock of shit). It was nice to have no other choice but to wait days to post the shot of the bootleg Hello Kitties I snapped on the Wildwood boardwalk. Even if it's completely obvious, this slowing down of time provides relaxation that's worth experiencing. Try it some time.
Since the problem with my computer was with my video card, Apple didn't anticipate the existing data on my hard drive to be an issue. Even if it did become one, I wasn't so worried -- I have a Time Machine plugged in always to handle that kind of worst-case scenario (for the uninitiated, it essentially clones your hard drive -- files, applications and everything -- so that you can pick up right back where you left off if you crash). When Apple called me earlier this week and told me that there was a problem with my drive and that they'd have to replace it, I got a little scared: what if my Time Machine failed me when I needed it most? I found out the answer the next day, when my Time Machine did indeed fail me, forcing me to transfer the data from a year-old Time Machine I had kept after it stopped backing up my system in the event of a worse-than-worst-case scenario just like this one (miraculously it retained the data). This means, at least, that almost all of my applications were restored. So that's nice. It also means that tons of my files are gone forever. I back up movies, music and uploaded projects on other drives (I'm actually somewhat obsessive about doing so on so many different drives to the point where I need some kind of storage for all my media storage). And when you come down to it, a lot of my work is backed up on the Internet, really (very little of what I do isn't immediately posted somewhere) so a lot of crucial stuff is still with me. I'm not completely covered. There are some irretrievable things, like material I was collecting for a new Tumblr idea is gone forever. Back to the collecting board, I guess. The fact that I couldn't resume my computer ownership where I left off made me very sad, and then mad that I'd done exactly what I was supposed to (after previously experiencing a similar crash or two) and I still got fucked, and then I felt stupid for getting so fired up about something so trivial.
Still, it is times like these that make me wonder why I bother to do anything at all -- it seems like it's all so temporary. I feel like my online work has had a lot of setbacks this summer -- YouTube rejected my I'm Not Here To Make Friends '10 video immediately (the product of a year's worth of work) and my secondary YouTube account was yanked just as my Country Hip-Hop Dancing edit was nearing 1 million views. These things are, again, trivial and stuff like view counts is mostly for one's ego anyway (who needs them?). But take that away and I'm left with virtually nothing, except for the joy of creation, I guess. And believe me, that fades quickly.
It's a sucky thing to add to a sucky time of year (hate the end of summer!) but that does not mean the last week has been entirely free of joy. Two sources of non-digital entertainment are below:
Earlier this summer, I mentioned my fascination with the depictions of pop musicians on Musik Express rides. After sharing a Music-era Madonna/Jon Benet Ramsey-with-muscles...uh, thing, I thought it would be fun to share even more (from two different amusement parks in two different South Jersey cities). Are they likeness-lawsuit-skirting renderings or just really bad art? You decide.
So that's uh, Tito Puente Jr. (?), Whitney and Michael Myers on guitar?
Ray Charles, Janet and/or Michael Jackson, skinny Elvis.
Michael and/or Janet Jackson, Tina Turner and fat Elvis.
The Boss and a Tina Turner/Bette Midler composite.
Madonna after her face was run over (quicker than a ray of light!) and fat Elvis.
I don't even know. Duke Ellington? Harry Belafonte? Obviously something that kids are listening to that I'm not meant to understand. Also pictured: Hendrix.
Whitney's got the limp wrist, but Dirk Diggler has the touch.
I have no idea who this is supposed to be. Who has or had mom hair like that? Celine Dion, maybe? Shania Twain? Jennifer Paige? I really want it to be Jennifer Paige (maybe because I remember hearing "Crush" while I rode Musik Express one time back in the day).
If Mariah Carey saw her airbrushed double chin, she'd probably cry and stop eating fruit for a week. Somebody who owns an airbrush really hates her. Actually, probably most people who own airbrushes do. Who has time for Mariah when you've got Ratt?
On the other hand, if Ray Charles say himself with airbrushed vitiligo...well, he wouldn't, I guess.
Here's another, more flattering Mariah. It is, of course, inscrutable but the biggest problem is...
...she seems to be host to some kind of arm squid. She can't even fry it up and enjoy it, thanks to the airbrushed double chin above. What a drag of a parasite!
So, those are fun and terrible. The second fun and terrible thing I encountered in New Jersey was a steady barrage of questions from my 65-or-so-year-old-aunt who was also visiting my mom. I've dealt with less inquisitive toddlers. In fact, every toddler I've ever dealt with has been inquisitive. I often wondered if she were writing a book, except she rarely asked follow-up questions so her stories would be about two sentences long: "Rich and his 'friends' went to the beach today. It wasn't too crowded. The end." Maybe she's writing a breezy book with a few words spread out over 150 pages that can be sold at Urban Outfitters. Isn't everyone these days?
Anyway, just to give you a taste of the interrogation we all faced (including my friend Gabe who joined us on a trip), I kept a list of the best ones:
If I wanted to sign in on your mother's Internet, how do I do it?
Where'd you go to dinner? Was it good?
So you didn't make it to Atlantic City?
Did you gamble?
Did you get all of Birdie's toys?
(On a squeaky alligator dog toy) Did you get that at Pet Smart?
What is a Squirmel?
There's no dog food laying around?
Do you have Wallgreens up there [in New York]?
What time are you guys gonna leave?
Did you see my blue medicine bag?
Did you work on The Howard Stern Show?
Whose gin and tonic is in there?
What'd you lose?
Are you eating breakfast with your father?
Did you play any games [in Wildwood]? Did you see the games?
Don't you have a pitcher?
Is that picture from the '60s?
Is that American cheese [on a pizza]?
(As Gabe bit into a slice of pizza) Do you want ice cream?
Has the second episode of Twilight:Eclipse been on TV?
Are you making [queso dip with] Rotel?
Do you want me to put six plates on the table?
Are you going to sit here, Rich?
Is [my sister] Becky going to eat?
Becky, are you going to eat?
Don't you have to soak those wooden skewers?
Should I vacuum while you cook?
Do you want me to do that while you light the grill?
Do you have one of those screens you can put on the grill?
How was the beach? Crowded?
Were there waves?
Was the beach crowded?
Did Becky leave already?
What movies opened?
Is that a cream cheese frosting?
How do you make your icing?
(Regarding a DVD whose menu was onscreen) Is it just starting?
Is that the good one, The Wolfman?
What's the name of the movie you're talking about?
Are the boys still asleep?
Is [my sister] Mollee asleep?
Do any of those windows open?
Since I have to take Bicitra, it would probably be good for me to drink lemonade wouldn't it?
Does Gabe walk his dog in the city?
(After my boyfriend had finished his steak) You don't eat meat, do you?
Whose shoes are these?
How come that picture came out so small on your mother's phone?
If I were really committed to this, I'd have her move in with me and start a Twitter called Shit My Aunt Asks. But you know, I've been having computer problems, so...