Blind Spot

I got myself access to a VPN router, which means I can now access social networking on my own! Huzzah for technology! Now for an update/story:

The tea was behind my laptop, so of course I didn’t see it. And so, when I moved my laptop and knocked the tea over, it caught me by surprise. And before I could finish saying “Oh no…” the tea, like some horrible tidal wave, washed into the back of my computer and fried my motherboard and battery in hot, antioxidant goodness. I stood in the office, holding my dripping computer aloft, stunned. I mean, I hadn’t been in China a week and I had ruined my only dependable means of….everything! Picture storage, writing, internet, communication – all of it winked out in the pop of a white screen. I couldn’t figure out which tense makes it worse – what I lost, or what I won’t be able to do. Somewhere my financial self is frantically tearing off her green visor and throwing a calculator through a mental window. Bill and Vega watch me carefully, probably wondering if I’m going to start crying. I don’t. Instead, I just appreciate that my stomach has decided to vacate through my spine, and my voice has opted out of functioning for the time being. They’re kind enough to give me a few minutes to myself – to sit in solemn silence…

Bill went out to buy a bag of rice, to see if an overnight might help get the tea out. It did not. So then I got to see a part of China which I bet few tourists do; I got to go to a computer repair shop. In this case, a refurbished apartment in downtown Chengdu populated by three men and a woman.Half the shelves are filled with accessories for Apple products, the other half is a mess of wires, keyboard pieces, metal shards, and bits of other people’s broken machines. I watched my dead laptop get autopsied by a young techie in thick black glasses, who pointed out all the water damage to Bill. Bill then reiterated that there was water damage to me, but by this point I had stopped really caring. I mean, I knew what had happened – heck, I caused it – and being reminded again and again was not helping my mood. Instead, I observe the man next to the techie, blowing cigarette smoke out onto a patio, removing pieces from another gadget and piling them up on his worktable.

At one point they remind me that any repairs would void the warranty. Naturally, but again irrelevant since the Mac was a few years old.

On the news, a plane had gone missing from Malaysia. I think about perspective.

Bad things happen. Bad things have happened to me – but this bad thing, even in the moments after it happened, is really not the worst thing that could happen to me. And so my computer will be fixed, or won’t be fixed, and I will adapt either way. Maybe stoic would best describe my mindset. When planes are disappearing and war is brewing, playing Chicken Little in an off-market repair store seems counterproductive. Sitting alone in the hotel, I feel sad but resigned. There are always solutions….

Fast forward to yesterday, when Bill gets a call from the repair people. For $75 I can get a new motherboard, and a replacement battery that is almost but not quite like a Mac battery. Though all the pieces are made in China, not all the pieces are available.The hard drive was not damaged, and so I should be able to recover my data.

“But Jean,” you may begin. “How are you writing this if your computer is totaled…?”

“Ah,” I reply. “I got my new office laptop, complete with VPN router.” A solution. When I get my refurbished, potentially Frankenstein monster-ed laptop back, I am going to check to make sure my data is still present. Then I am going to put my US laptop away and stick to this Chinese laptop for the bulk of my stay here. I can’t read several of the command prompts, since they’re in Chinese characters, but I feel like not needing an adapter and being able to access social media (like this blog) is worth that small hassle.

I will try to summarize in my next post all the blog entries that I didn’t send to Rachel – to give you an idea of where I am exactly and what I am doing.

And now I put my tea on the far side of the desk, just in case.


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