Friday, September 28, 2007


All summer I did the Marilynne Robinson “Housekeeping” thing -- that is, let the wind blow dust through and tracked leaves in and let small animals have their way with the furnishings. (Cat nests on all sides.) Fall is a time for reform while it’s still warm enough for things to dry out from washing or to temporarily set things outside to make room while moving furniture into new patterns. But yesterday I accidentally kicked the plug of the computer out of the wall.

No biggie, I thought. I’ll just start ‘er up again. But it wouldn’t turn on. My eMac is supposed to be a self-healer, but what if it won’t even turn on? I went away for a while, did other things, came back. Still no action. What would I do without a computer? My financial resources, even borrowing, are drawn down past the point of comfort. Partly this is because I was so sure that money from the bio of Bob would be coming in by now and partly because inflation goes up, up, up. Beyond inflation, there are beginning to be scams: AT&T is billing me $40 a month for nothing -- I’m using calling cards for long distance. Even my user-friendly credit union now charges me $25 per overdraft, even if it’s only $1. I couldn’t afford computer repair, much less a new machine.

What would I do without it? My grocery list is on it. My monthly accounts are on it. Thank God for blogging -- all those small essays are accessible through the library’s machines, though they are all “Windows” OS which I hate. Even some of my scanned photos are on Photobucket. My practice with novels in progress is to print as I go, put the pages in 3-ring binders, and shelve them. That works.

Communication with my cousins would stop. I’d miss out on the listservs. I’d have to read blogs at the library. (Some of them are just too good to miss -- they’re like long, on-going novels by now as people live their lives and record their changes.)

The worst part is that I’ve gotten so I think on the computer. I look up concepts and get a quick review. I investigate providers or symptoms or schools of thought. Now that I think about it, I could probably give up some of my books without really feeling it. IF I still had the computer. It structures my day (along with the cats and the post office).

In fact, I got so drawn into the internal head debate over the computer and how to survive without it, that I forgot to take my blood pressure and diabetes pills. Went to do that at 8PM and got a reading of 200 blood glucose! Panic! That’s twice the usual! I bailed out the door and walked for half-an-hour. That on top of my regular pills brought me down to 75. Swinging back and forth is not good, though it won’t look that bad on my a1c, which is an average.

Still distracted and with everything in strange places, I kicked my shin hard against a ceramic pot with a protruding rim, producing a bruise. Later on, since I didn’t move it and it was still in the way, I knocked against the pot again, aggravating the bruise. Was I going to die of a blood-clot from an accidental bruise? It was swollen pretty bad. I went to take an aspirin. If I still had a bathtub, I’d soak for a while.

I’ve got to get to Cut Bank to get more test strips for my little glucose tester, which means I must type off the records of results. I didn’t test as often as I’m supposed to. I’ll be scolded. (I also didn’t floss, didn’t moisturize, and didn’t check my feet carefully every day.) I’m crashing and it’s all my own fault.

The moon was up, so full and pale it made the yard look as though it had snowed. If it was full moon, that meant my hormonal system was at what used to be the pre-menstrual unjustified goad and outrage stage. I laughed.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I remembered that I’d read that if a computer were just unplugged and left alone for a while, it had the capacity to settle down and operate again. Certainly my pickiup has that feature, which it took me a long time to realize was actually a FEATURE. If the computer in the pickiup gets confused, it just goes numb and dumb for a minute. (Not good in traffic!) Then everything works again. So I unplugged the computer and went to read. (Couldn’t watch my Netflix since I have to watch DVD’s on the computer.)

All summer I’ve been working through “The Raj Quartet,” loving it and always able to step right back in where I left off. So many people in such dire straits, and yet they cope. Or not. In the long run it matters little. Pretty soon I heard little “bings” in the office. Once I had a Mac Classic that I packed with me on trips -- that was before laptops. (I’ll bet I could sell enough books off my shelves to buy an old used Mac Classic.) The battery in it was dead but I hadn’t replaced it yet. It was August and as I drove in the afternoon, voices started coming from next to me. The heat had fired up the last energies of the battery and the computer was talking to me, a little muffled inside its backpack carrier.

At bedtime I tried this eMac and it came on as though nothing had ever happened, except that it reminded me to reset the time. My bruise had begun to itch a bit, which is a good sign. The forecast for today was 70 degrees which was an even better sign. My hormone balance changed in the night, so now my fingers are no longer sausages and I don’t feel as though I might burst into tears.

But a shot has been fired over my bow. Old age is not something to take lightly, nor is diabetes, nor is poverty. Back up data. Make connections. Offload anything unnecessary. Fill those 3-ring binders. Keep a schedule. Make lists.

Make lists.

Make lists.

Post them!


Rebecca Clayton said...

Scary to think your eMac can mess up your blood pressure and blood sugar. I don't have any insights into the latter two things, but I have an additional eMac tip. My eMac's about five years old, and it's failed at boot several times. Besides turning off the power and leaving it alone for a while, unplug all the peripherals--the printer, the scanner, everything except the mouse and the keyboard, while it's still turned off. You can plug them back in after you boot up successfully. (That's a tip from the Mac website.)

I hope to use this same eMac for the next five years. (Actually, I now do most of my work on a 10-year old machine running Linux, in part for bragging purposes. Who can run the oldest, raggedest machine the longest and cheapest?)

prairie mary said...

Not taking your pills is what makes your bp and bg so up -- preoccupation can keep you from taking your pills.

I'm so grateful for eMac tips! Esp. when they don't involve money! Or high tech strategies! I need to figure out how to burn CD's again. I notice it's a regular problem on the Mac website, which I have not searched as thoroughly as I will in the future.

I admire your attitude! (Esp. since being old, ragged and cheap.)

Prairie Mary

JDM said...

Geez, that's a lousy day! Good response plan!