Archive for April 19th, 2007

My tiny blue Dell Inspiron 300m laptop finally expired. Bless its heart. It was a lemon. I’ve had it almost three years and in that time Dell replaced the motherboard once, the memory card twice, the keyboard once, and the LCD display twice. The right hinge that connects the screen to the rest of the computer recently broke off; a new one was to be shipped this week.

I cancelled the order at about 7 this morning. I’d been writing for 20 minutes when the computer made a popping sound, turned itself off, then reeked burning plastic smell all over my lap. I run kind of cold, which might account for the fact I didn’t notice anything was melting into my black Spandex pants.

The good news is Dell is going to replace the laptop with a brand new one AND they’ve guaranteed if they can’t give me the model I have, they’ll send me something even better. (At least that’s what Lawrence with the Puerto Rican accent in central Florida told me, and I choose to believe him.) The best thing I did when I got the computer was purchase a three-year service contract. That’s the whole reason I’m getting the replacement computer now.

Dell stopped short of replacing my pants and committing to load all my files from the melted computer to my new one, so I had to take the laptop to Data Doctors to back up the contents of my hard drive. I’m pretty sure they’ll be able to retrieve the data. I hope so. It has all my archived email files, scanned drawings, and writings. Finished pieces. Pieces in process. I hadn’t backed up my data ever since Dell sent over an on-site technician sporting a Real Men Love Jesus button to replace the motherboard.

This time Dell will be sending me a special case; I’ve been instructed to place my laptop into that case and to not turn on the computer between now and then. Don’t even plug in the power cord, Lawrence warned. He said my computer is a fire hazard. Once I ship back the computer, I’ll get my new one.

I wouldn’t have bought Dell to begin with if it weren’t for the fact I got a great deal through work. I guess in the end it’s been worth it. I got two-and-a-half pretty good years and a lot of compliments out of the sleek Inspiron. And now I’m looking forward to having a brand new laptop. I’ll probably let my oldest daughter use it this fall for middle school, and then, if I can afford it, I’ll buy myself a new MacBook Pro. I will definitely purchase the three-year contract. And an external hard drive.

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I saw a post early this week by Janice Harayda at One Minute Book Reviews that reminded me it is Pulitzer week.

I like her philosophy of book reviewing. In her post, Famous Pulitzer Losers – 10 Great Novels That Didn’t Win the Fiction Prize and Which Books Beat Them, Janice compares books that didn’t make the cut, to those who won.

Yet when I read her list, I have to scratch my head and think, “Are there really any losers?”

Here are a couple of samples:

Loser: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Winner: The Edge of Sadness by Edwin O’Connor

Loser: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Winner: The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
Winner: The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder

She also did another recent post that caught my eye about John Cheever who won a Pulitzer in 1979. Remember reading his short stories last year in Taos along with Susan Cheever’s memoir, Home Before Dark?

You can see the rest of the Pulitzer winners at The Pulitzer Prizes.  I don’t know if I feel better or worse knowing many classic books miss by a hair. But then, we can’t all be winners.

I wonder what Joseph would think?

Thursday, April 19th, 2007

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It is another day. I choose to practice. I am not yet awake. My body feels worn out this week. Tired. Can’t get enough sleep. In the evenings, I get home from work, meetings, whatever I have going on, and plop down on the couch. The sun gleefully beams in the windows. It’s my first spring living in this house. I like it.

Finches, cardinals, robins, nuthatches, and downy woodpeckers flit back and forth from the 3 feeders to the ash and juniper in front of the deck. The sun is strong through the fogged picture window. I sometimes have to lower the blinds so I can see my laptop screen. My back is sore. I must have slept on it wrong.

I am in transition. The same as the seasons. The winter was fruitful. There is a noticeable gap in the weeks I used to go to Taos. Last year was full of writing trips to Taos. This year, I make plans to go South to work on my book. And don’t really even understand exactly what that means.

I’m reminded of one writer friend who is flying across the Midwest in her Subaru wagon, mile after mile after mile, gathering details for a story she is writing. Did you know Subaru is the Japanese word for the Pleiades? Information is falling into her lap at breakneck speed: interviews, relatives, old landmark buildings, prisons, diners, prosecutors, and gallows. She leaves me messages daily, connection, and tells me she has no idea where all this is leading.

I feel the same way. Yet her last words to me in her voicemail this morning from somewhere in Missouri were, “I love being a writer.” I wonder if that’s something writers will always experience. Not knowing where we are going. Yet loving that we are writers. I don’t know.

All I know is that my back is sore, I’m exhausted, and I’m also the happiest I’ve ever been. Happiness, that elusive feeling that soars along brain lines with serotonin and epinephrin and pheromones. When I’m down, how much is hormonal? And how much is me?

When I’m happy, how much is hormonal, how much circumstantial? And how much is me? I am glad to be alive. And there are some who do not get to make that choice. I grieve as we all grieve. Wave after wave sweeps the nation. But I choose to focus on hope. For all the single-minded villains out there, there are a million other humans moving the mountain of grief toward healing.

Easy for me to say. I’m never going to know what it was like in Blacksburg. I listened to NPR this morning to an incredibly brave and composed woman walking the interviewer through what started as any normal morning. Then, there she was under fire in the center of her German class. Everyone around her was shot – but her. How do you make sense out of that? I don’t know if I have that kind of bravery in me. She is brave to want her voice to be heard. She is alive.

It is good to be alive on a Midwestern spring morning. I appreciate my life, my friends, the writers that keep me going, my family who never gives up on me. If nothing else, gratitude for what I have will keep me going. I have to focus on the glass half full. It’s an old cliche. But it’s my way of grieving.

What makes me happy? Living each day as fully as I can. The simplicity of playing with 3 cats on the Queen-size bed in the morning while my partner dresses and laughs in the corner, sipping her morning French Roast.
Writing makes me happy. It also brings a lot of hard truths. On this spring filled Thursday, when the word of the day in the dictionary I just pulled up online is debauchery, connecting makes me happy. I’ve been craving the safety of home; I have also been needing connection. And love. As corny as it sounds, yes, love.

Thursday, April 19th, 2007

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