Sobriquet 55.15

I woke up this afternoon (yes, afternoon) feeling pretty miserable, the previous two days' worth of computer-related stress no doubt playing a large part in my mood's gradual development from morning (figuratively speaking) melancholy to afternoon anxiety. There's just something so utterly depressing about losing one's digital existence. I mean, while there is still technically some hope that the good folks at Apple will be able to salvage some of my files, I haven't much hope left on that front. Like many people in the digital age, I tend to feel somewhat incomplete without my computer and not knowing what's going on with it only exacerbates an already hefty dose of unease.

As a result of this discomfort, I suspect, my normal level of restlessness ratcheted up a few notches and I found I simply could not sit at home. Not wanting to throw away a perfectly good day for dissertation-writing, I dug up the old laptop on which I wrote my Master's thesis, packed it in my car and set out on a drive to who knows where. In my mind, I envisioned myself checked into some inexpensive motel, hunched over the damaged display clacking away at the Disgrace chapter or else doing the same thing in a park somewhere. I mean, I just had to get away and I knew I couldn't succumb to the temptation to wallow in my own misery, either. So, off I went.

Of course, I didn't get any writing done in my car or at the desk of some Spartan motel room, but I did spend a few hours driving around in the rain, weaving in and out of the towns and hamlets dotting central New York, enjoying the scenery and listening to Chelsea's Evacuate. When I finally got home, I felt a tiny bit better, but still had to push myself to write anything.

After a suitable amount of hemming and hawing, I finally did get a bit of work done. Earlier in the day, as I prepared to drive around, I bought myself a new flash drive on which to back up my files so that, in the event another catastrophic disk failure befalls me, I would not have to deal with the stress of having to collect my key files from a variety of de-centralized storage places. For some reason, that little bit of plastic and metal inspired me and I set myself up with this old laptop, a bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper, and a box fan; climbed into bed, propped myself up on some pillows, and got out of my shoes; and listened to the patter of rain while my cat snuggled up next to me (an affectionate cat, I am learning, can do an awful lot of good). It turned out to be a productive evening.

The main reason I wanted to write, though, was because I knew that the sooner I accepted the reality of my situation and acknowledged that I could and should proceed as if nothing happened, the sooner I would return to a more normal mode of dissertation-writing. I mean, it feels weird writing about Disgrace on this laptop and it did take me a few moments to realize that the slight difference in pagination between my Mac-formatted chapter and my Word-formatted version of the same text owes to the fact that Mac's default "Times Roman" font and Microsoft's "Times New Roman" font are just a tiny bit different. But, I figured, one must move on, even if it feels weird, even if the computer on which I felt at home is spread out in the sick bay of some distant computer workshop. If there's anything I have learned while writing this damn dissertation, it is that not everything goes as planned. Furthermore, my life experience has taught me that it is at the times one feels most discouraged that one must rally.

What I have learned, I hope, is to be even more vigilant with backing things up. I mean, when floppy disks were the de facto method of storage, I used to save everything to a backup file regularly but, when CDs briefly became the go-to, I fell out of the habit somewhat, put off by the relative inconvenience of burning things to a disk. Now, though, flash drives are about as convenient as can be, so it's about time I return to that old habit. The other thing I have decided to do is switch back to Microsoft's Word as my default word processing program. When I switched to Macintosh last year, I opted for Mac's proprietary Pages program, which has some distinct advantages. But, since I now know just how few computers (including my friend's Mac!) cannot read .pages files, I will be opting for the more common .doc files. Certainly, Pages can open and save things as .doc, but the transfers are still a bit on the messy side and, given my recent experiences, I am not too keen on having to worry about compatibility issues. I just want to finish the fucking dissertation, pass Go, collect my $200, and settle on Marvin Gardens. Or, you know, the postgraduate equivalent.

But, yeah. I'm still uncomfortable with things, still feeling unmoored by the lack of a digital home base for my dissertation, but I made some progress which is, given my mood today, a big deal.

So I'm rewarding myself with movies. I just finished watching I Am Legend, a not altogether disappointing interpretation of Richard Matheson's novel. As is all-too-often the case, Hollywood has defanged an interesting text as it processes the story for mass consumption, but Will Smith delivers a solid enough performance to make a rather weak script more than bearable. Still, the novel, with its darker ending and philosophical overtones is a much more satisfying work.

For tomorrow: Try to write a bit more. Failing that, prep or read.


minxy said…
YAY for not giving up! Some people (myself included, probably) would just chuck the whole project after the issues you've just had, but you're continuing to work and that is total awesomeness. :) I'm proud of you.

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