It’s the Presidents Day weekend, and with a deadline looming at the end of the month I had a whole plan for these three days. I’d complete the first round of revisions on Saturday, so that on Monday (I had conflicts all day Sunday) I could print out the newest draft and look that over, in order to do a final polish this week and submit sometime over the weekend. It’s timed out almost to the second, but it’s eminently doable, as long as nothing unexpected happens. So you can imagine my consternation, Constant Reader, when I sat down to work on Saturday and found myself unable to type.
I don’t mean that I was suffering from writer’s block, or was somehow distracted. I’m not talking about my mental state. I was physically unable to type anything.
My laptop is several years old at this point, with at least one of those years going past its expected lifespan. For the past few weeks, I’ve been experiencing difficulties with the keyboard, with various keys being unable to strike – it feels like something’s grinding underneath them instead, and I have to hold down the key for half a minute or so to get the keystroke to register (no doubt compounding the problem). I’ve tried having the keypad cleaned, but that hasn’t provided a permanent solution. Today, the keys that would not respond – at all – were the space bar, the delete key, and the down cursor. It is, of course, completely impossible to write or edit with those particular keys not functioning.
So I walked to my nearest Best Buy, to get the keyboard fixed again, only to find when I got there that the problem had somehow fixed itself. So I walked back home, turned on the computer, wrote a few emails, opened my Final Draft doc to finish my revisions, only for the problems to instantly reappear. So I packed the laptop back up, and walked to Best Buy again, this time resolving to buy a new laptop once and for all. (The Best Buy is about half a mile from my apartment, mind you, so the two round trips wound up involving me walking two miles. During snow squalls. So it goes.)
The trouble was, it would take three to five business days for the files on my hard drive to transfer from one device to another. Since my submission deadline is a week away, that would make it impossible for me to complete the very revisions which were why I needed to get the new laptop in the first place. I’d also still need to re-launch and re-do all the various connections which make it possible for me to work remotely at my day job, which I’ve had to do for the past two years in order to survive a pandemic.) The very issue that had created the problem – my overuse of my poor, battered laptop – had made it seemingly impossible to solve the problem.
I wound up having to buy an entirely separate keyboard, which I have plugged into my laptop’s usb port, thereby bypassing my laptop’s compromised keys altogether. And while my desk is now a forest of cables and keyboards and plastic piled on plastic, it seems to be a workable solution. The latest revisions are finished; I’ll be heading off to print the newest draft as soon as I post this blog post. (Which I successfully typed on my laptop, so there’s some more evidence for you.) Crisis averted.
And yet –
Everything these days, absolutely everything, is so damn fragile. Even if we were living in ideal times, the technology which we rely upon is vulnerable to power surges and freak accidents and solar flares and heaven knows what else, all of which could erase years of our toil in a matter of seconds. Throw in the travails of seemingly never-ending insurrection and plague, and the ludicrously complicated jury-rigged solutions we’ve had to evolve to endure them, and it’s no wonder most of the people I know are burnt out. Dealing with all of this is exhausting, and one reversal, one mischance, is all it would take to render it all for naught.
At least we’ve got a three day weekend…