Thursday, April 15, 2010


Just like that, things went from bad to worst.

I’d accomplished very little writing by midday. With my house for sale and a showing scheduled for early afternoon, I spent the morning mopping, scrubbing and fending off dust bunnies. Those pesky things multiply like…well, you know.

I stopped in town to buy some flowers for inside displays and new plants for window boxes. With my house sitting stagnant on the market for several months, I needed to pull out all the stops (and dandelions).

Cleaning is not one of my innate talents. By the time I finished, I was frazzled and frustrated. Who knows what snappy writing nuggets were sucked up with the whir of the vacuum. I loaded the dogs and my backpack in the car and headed to a café in town to finally turn on my laptop and begin writing.

I took one of my characters and plunked her in the midst of a bad karma day. Too much had been going right for her lately. Not a good thing in a fictional world.

When I returned home, I decided to keep the writing momentum going. I pulled my laptop out of my backpack and dropped it. The laptop, not the backpack. Understated thought of the day: That can’t be good. It was a short distance from hand to carpet, but the impact caused my computer to grow wings. The DVD component opened on one side and a heretofore unknown appendage kicked out on the other side.

I’ve shortened the life of many gadgets due to being a klutz. Two cell phones, a hedge trimmer, a record player, VCR and an alarm clock come immediately to mind. I’m told southpaws are clumsy. If you ask me, products should go through a series of Crash Test Lefty trials before going on the market. There’d be a lot less junk in the landfill. But, of course, no one asked me.

I stayed calm. I pushed the parts back in, plugged in the laptop, powered it up and a bunch of gibberish appeared on screen along with the message: Operating system not found. With equal parts denial and optimism, I shut down and started up again. Operating system not found. Operating system not found. After the fifth try, I grabbed the phone book. Computer Repair.

Time was of the essence. I’d booked a couple of days at a hotel in Washington State beginning tomorrow as a research expedition for a new screenplay. All my background work and the first act of the script were on the computer. Had I backed up my work? Of course not. Bought one of those memory stick thingies a year ago, but never figured out what to do with it. Plenty more than a single writing project stored exclusively on my prehistoric laptop.

After several phone calls—numbers no longer in service, a guy who couldn’t possibly look at my computer today—I finally talked to a fellow who matter-of-factly told me my hard drive was likely busted beyond hope. Bottom line: all was lost. Bad karma in real life definitely not a good thing. Was this The Revenge of the Dust Bunnies?

I struggled to remain an optimist. I begged him to take a look. He agreed and told me to meet him at the liquor store in town. (That should have been a red flag, but I was desperate.) Maybe it was a fitting place. People buy booze in times of celebration and in times of woe. Not sure what the occasion would be for me, but I needed something to wash down my chewed up fingernails.

After handing off the laptop and not bothering to ask for so much as a business card, I hit the gym to do something constructive with my nervous energy as I awaited his call. Forty-five minutes later, my cell rang.

“You should buy a lottery ticket,” he said. Did he mean I was lucky or was he saying any future fortune depended on Quick Picks rather than my big writing break? Turns out the bunnies came up short. All was restored.

Whew. Breathe. That bottle of chardonnay is for celebrating after all! And I’d say it’s time for me to finally figure out what to do with the memory stick thingy.