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My computer died today.
I came downstairs to give it my morning greeting, powering it awake while brewing my coffee, and waiting for us to go through our simultaneous early routine of yawning and stretching and coaxing our groggy eyes open until we face each other and I scroll through emails and daily news, mug in hand.
But I went downstairs this morning, powered it awake, and nothing happened.  The screen remained a blank hazy blue, with no morning greetings, no field-of-lavender screensaver, no desktop.  So I rebooted it, and this time the screen was not even an eerie blue, it was solid black — it was collapse-of-a-supernova black.  It had contracted the dreaded “Black Screen,” which is the bubonic plague of all things digital.
So my husband and I hustled over to the computer store, as I hoped that they could fix it. My husband announced that it was time for me to buy a new laptop. I really felt like that wouldn’t be necessary, reasoning that I’ve only had the thing about 3 1/2 years, which in my mind is just long enough to get it comfortably broken in, but then it dawned on me that computer years are akin to dog years, only about four times longer, meaning that a computer ages roughly 28 times faster than the average human.
I was indeed lured into buying a new laptop rather than trying to repair the old one because 1). my laptop is 98 in human years, 2). they said they could transfer all the data by tomorrow night, and 3). I am gullible.
I could have been happy about getting a brand-spanking-new computer, but I like my old one; it’s comfortable and familiar, like a favorite pair of jeans.  And actually, I think that buying a new PC falls somewhere between buying a new pair of jeans and buying a new house — and the cost of it falls somewhere between the two, as well.
You know that the new jeans will never fit like the old ones; you know there will be that breaking-in period; and that something about the rise or the length or the back pockets will be “updated.”  And you might be excited about a brand new home, but there’s the hassle with the move, and you know that all of your furniture won’t fit and you’ll have to replace some of it, and that there’s always the risk of something getting lost in the move.
And there are some things about that old house that you’re just going to miss, like your wallpaper.  I like my fields-of-lavender wallpaper. And I’m wondering if it’s been discontinued and will I ever be able to see it again?
So currently I’m typing on an old ASUS notebook that I unearthed. It’s about 84 in human years.  It is exactly as functional as an actual spiral-bound notebook, but not as responsive and with less storage capacity.
Now if you are like me, you manage your home, your business, your finances, your social life, your children’s lives and your distractions from your personal computer.  When I sit down to mine each morning, I feel like I’m in the captain’s seat of the Starship Enterprise, and it’s fitted with a cup holder.  Equipped now with only my feeble notebook and my smartphone, I feel like I’m running my world from the bottom of a La Brea tar pit, armed with a walkie-talkie and a slide rule.
There’s nothing left to do but put on my favorite pair of jeans and wait for moving day.

Robin Conte

Robin Conte lives with her husband in an empty nest in Dunwoody. To contact her or to buy her new column collection, “The Best of the Nest,” see robinconte.com.

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