Monday, September 21, 2009

The 5 Steps

The evening of September 18th.
Taylor and Meena’s Room.
2000: we are listening to music on my computer and making signs for George before heading up to the talent show.
2015: we are no longer listening to music. I ask Stephen (my friendly neighbor by association) to turn it back on.
2015.5: Stephen cannot turn it back on, the screen is blank.
2016: I restart my computer only to be greeted by a black screen with a blinking image of a file with a question mark.
2018: we turn off the computer after much discussion and head to the talent show.

2345: I am back in my room with my computer; I turn it on to see if it magically works. It does not. No big deal, I’ll figure it out tomorrow. Denial.

The morning of September 19th.
The IT desk in the computer lab.

1000: “Excuse me; there is a problem with my computer. It flashes signs when I open it and it does nothing else besides that and turn off.” I draw out a cancel sign like the ones you see over Ps on no parking signs. I show him the flashing folder.
1004: The head of IT tells me, “This is not good. This is not good at all.” Oh, really?
1005: Andrew, my friend that works in IT, in told to Google all sorts of codes and key demands.
1010: Head IT tries a bunch of keys. To no avail. I am growing concerned for my computer. I stare at him as he continues to punch in different codes, stretching his fingers in strange ways across the keyboard.
1014: Head IT asks if I brought my Mac start up kit or if I happened to program my external hard drive with a reboot application. No, I did not. I learned how to use my external a few days before I left the country… I learned how to plug it in and to drag pictures over to it. This is ridiculous, why don’t they tell you to do things like that! Anger.
1020: Head IT tells me to go get my charger. I run through the halls to go get life support for my computer.
1023: Head IT tries to force feed my computer a cd-rom. My computer is not responding.
1035: I begin pacing the area around the computers. I talk to everyone I know about anything other than technology. Someone asks me how my two presentations for the following day are coming along... I bolt back to my computer. Head IT is now helping someone else.
1050: “What’s the update doc?” Head IT tells me he’s letting my computer rest before he tries a new strategy. I head back to the lounge to read and research things for my presentations. I pick up my things and begin ferociously underlining, analyzing, noting my articles on Vodafone’s marketing strategy in Ghana. Maybe if I work really hard on my presentations without technology, the computer gods will allow my computer’s life to be spared and I will just have to work hard and pretend like I don’t even need my computer. Bargaining.
1105:  I pull a chair up next to the operating table. I doodle intently on the “Sign Up Here to be Helped” paper. I doodle large swiggles and swirls all over the upcoming days. Swiggle. Check. Swirl. Check. Heart. Check. Swiggle. Stare.
1114: Friends come over to see how things are going at the computer hospital. I have no good news yet.
1115: Head IT listens to my computer’s internal workings. “The hard drive is still spinning” This is good news.
1116: The question mark is flashing again...
1125: I think of all the memories I have stored on my computer, all the good times captured in pictures, all the thoughts poured into documents, all the music that set the tempo, the tone, the mood of all my college days…Depression.
1127: I am still lost in my depressing thoughts when Head IT hits my computer.
1127.2: He hits it again!
1127.5: He slowly puts his ear to the keypad.
1127.8: Head IT looks up at me and sees my look of sheer horror.
1128: He hits it again! My computer flashes the Mac startup image of the stars streaming through the purple and black universe. My computer sees the light.
1128.2: He listens again and looks up at me.
1129: after a long moment, he says in almost a whisper, “it’s gone.”

1130: He flips my computer over and beckons me to come and put my ear down and listen to the failing hard drive. I hear it spinning, clicking, and stopping.

All of the first four stages overcome me at once. That’s not true! You didn’t do everything! I will trade something for the secret of computer resuscitation. Ohhh nooooo…

1132: I thank the doctor for all he has done. I unplug the life support and the dim light of the power flash stops. I take my computer down to my room and lay it on my bed. It is hard to believe that it is now just a piece of plastic.

My morning continues with a series of events that I almost expected. I walked around the ship with a cloud over my head. My laundry still hasn’t come- it has been three days. I try to call home for the first time, no one answers and two minutes from my expensive 13minute ocean phone card are gone. Unfailingly kind Taylor suggests we order a cookie basket. Orders must be placed a full day in advance. More Depression.

This whole situation becomes laughable as I reenact the scene. I call home again and I am so happy to be able to relay the situation with a smile because I am connected to home! A group of us treat ourselves to dinner on the pool deck. We watch the sun setting over the Atlantic. The humidity of the African summer is almost unbearable, we love it. There is ice cream for dessert in the dining rooms, a fantastic surprise.

2245: Taylor, Nick and I go up to starboard deck 7 bow to look at the stars. It is a beautiful clear night. The astronomy professor and his wife are out. He points out the constellation Sagittarius on his map which is secured around his neck and rests on his belly. Because of the new moon stage (by the way this also represent the end of Ramadan, go crazy morocco) of the date, our proximity to the equator, and the clearness of the sky he says tonight’s the perfect night to see this constellation. He uses his laser to point it out in the sky. He says, “That’s the center of our universe.” Whoa. We take it in, straining our necks looking at the Milky Way arching over the boat like a rainbow in the night. 

2315: On the port side, we hang our arms over the railing and watch a thunderstorm release its booming color over the African horizon. We cannot hear anything but we are far enough away that we can see multiple flashes over the distance of the storm.
Life is amazing. Acceptance.