The Second Frustrating Day

Yesterday was the second frustrating day.

In the morning, I took my laptop into the Information Technology center at Boston University. I was told to call at the end of the day to see if it needed to stay over the weekend. Just to take the suspense out of this blog post: it did. This weekend, I do not have a laptop. That’s not quite correct, because after all, here I am typing this post. I have my old, very old, laptop. The one I had before I bought the new one. Technology changes so quickly. A laptop that I used for years, and that was the best I could find at the time, now seems slow and clunky. It’s difficult to type on.

Which makes me think of two things. The first is the extent to which I depend on technology that is easy to use. My laptop, where everything is configured for me, where I can move around the internet with the fewest possible clicks, going from my website to facebook to twitter without having to input passwords. It’s almost as easy, for me, as writing on paper with a pen. My cell phone, which allows me to be in constant touch with the world, even in airports. When something breaks down, it feels as though I have been displaced, as though a part of me is in the wrong place. Donna Harraway is right: we are all becoming cyborgs. Or at least I am. I can live without my tech. But I can’t live with tech that malfunctions.

And my life requires things to work. It’s a life in which things happen quickly, in which I need to turn documents around. Not having the ability to do that is so frustrating.

The second thing I thought about was how I deal with that sort of frustration. What did I actually do to deal with it?

First, I cleaned and mended. No, seriously. I cleaned my closet, and I mended three skirts and one sweater. On one skirt, I needed to secure the hook and eye more firmly. On the second, I needed to sew up some tears near the zipper. The third was a skirt with seven tiers, each using more fabric than the last, so that it flares around my calves. On those sorts of skirts, the places where the tiers are sewn together are not always strong, and the thread can break. So I sewed the places where the tiers had come apart. And the sweater had a run, which I secured and sewed over. So, in a small way, I put things that had come apart back together.  And in my closet, I added a set  of low shelves on which I could fold all my sweaters.  It’s now much neater.  And there is finally room for all the shoes.  Although honestly, most women would probably laugh to see how few clothes I have, how few shoes. Everything fits into one closet, one dresser.  Which is all a part of traveling lightly.

Second, I read. Specifically Joan Aiken’s Armitage family stories. The book I was reading is called The Serial Garden: The Complete Armitage Family Stories. It’s published by Small Beer Press, and you can buy it from Small Beer Press here and from Amazon here. The wonderful thing about these stories is that there’s no interference. What I mean is, I never find myself thinking, that could have been put in a better, clearer way. Aiken’s prose is exactly what it should be: clear, lucid, precise. The sort of prose I would very much like to write myself. The sort I’m trying to write.

It’s a story about a family that has magical adventures that, to them, are perfectly ordinary. The first chapter begins,

“Monday was the day on which unusual things were allowed, and even expected to happen at the Armitage house.

“It was on a Monday, for instance, that two knights of the Round Table came and had a combat on the lawn, because they insisted that nowhere else was flat enough. And on another Monday two albatrosses nested on the roof, laid three eggs, knocked off most of the tiles, and then deserted the nest; Agnes, the cook, made the eggs into an omelet but it tasted too strongly of fish to be considered a success. And on another Monday, all the potatoes in a sack in the larder turned into the most beautiful Venetian glass apples, and Mrs. Epis, who came in two days a week to help with the cleaning, sold them to a rag-and-bone man for a shilling.”

And so on. Interestingly, typing those lines, I can see how Aiken’s prose must have influenced Kelly Link, because for some reason that description reminds me of Kelly’s “The Fairy Handbag.”

Third, I danced. Sort of, not actual dancing but the dance and yoga and pilades moves I put together into my exercise routine. I put on S.J. Tucker’s Blessings. And then, I moved: bending and twisting and lifting, making sure all the muscles were stretched and strengthened, going from downward dogs to pushups and back again, from roll-ups and rollovers to shoulder stands. Just trying to get the tension out.

It’s difficult not to dance when you have music like this:

Or this:

This is going to be a frustrating weekend. I want Monday to come already. Until then, I’m going to keep cleaning, mending, reading, dancing. What else is there to do, in the face of frustration?

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4 Responses to The Second Frustrating Day

  1. Sofia says:

    So sorry the tech troubles are continuing! That’s awful! But what a great response to frustration. 😀

  2. DISAPPEARED
    A Computer Connection Fails
    by Ms.

    I was utterly bereft, lost, abandoned, out of the loop.
    A familiar ancient feeling descended
    with the swiftness of a flash drive download.

    My vulnerable psyche drifted
    back to the past.
    Memories of being excluded rose up.

    My panic button fired flashing warning.
    All requests were rejected.
    All contacts became unavailable.

    I was left alone in the dark with only my most imperfect self.
    Ah, the human condition!
    Reality check time: cup of herb tea.

    What is actually lost?
    Only two months ago I had no Internet, no equipment,
    no dependence on this mode of communication.

    How quickly expectation becomes a snare, a prison,
    a stone on the path that grows to mountainous proportions, becomes impassable.

    Reason’s thin voice grew stronger:
    Perhaps you could find funds in the meager budget to reconnect.
    Perhaps you might opt out and live simply once more.

    Bread, Water, air, light, sound, thoughts, memory, sensation:
    These ‘givens’ will all be removed eventually.
    That is what the bigger picture has always made crystal clear.

    My life on earth is one little illustration of transience,
    minute to minute nothing but chance
    carved out of all my plans.

    Do I exist at all?
    What a silly question for a Sunday.
    “I am that I am” says a certain sage.

    “I am because my little dog knows me.”
    Gertrude Stein said that.
    I know who I am.

  3. david mynning says:

    Theo,
    all is true about what you say of frustrations due to THINGS not working right…

    Given that, remember…

    our relationships depend on our input, so don’t let your frustrations carry over into your personal life. Since the technology isn’t working right anyway, take a deep breath, walk away from it, go give the ones you love a hug and a kiss, and go get an ice-cream cone. Yeah…………..

  4. Wendy Wagner says:

    You’ve absolutely inspired me to read Joan Aiken! I’ve always loved her, but I haven’t read any of the Armitage series. Thank you!

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