Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Mechanic

On this day, remarkably, you have "solved" two critical mechanical problems related to your computer. The "solutions" came as a result of protracted persistence, a quality you are barely on speaking terms with. The quotation marks appended to the solved/solution words are there because you are not entirely sure how you effected them. In any case, you have achieved a forty-eight-hour bonding with an Internet connection without having to reboot your cable modem or the mysterious white rectangle called Airport Extreme that receives the signal from your cable modem then broadcasts it wirelessly to your computer, printer, music system, and external hard drive back-up.


You have also somehow resolved the dire warnings received each day from your computer's back-up system, advising you that it has been twenty-two days since your files were backed up. At least, you think it is your computer, sending you these warnings as opposed to the external hard drive. You have come to regard the entire process as a robotic rebellion, somewhat of a piece with the Peasant's Rebellion of the Middle Ages, wherein disparate parts go out on strike, wanting your attention.

Not long before you began typing these vagrant lines, you had another such warning about backing up files, almost reflexively responded with the same approaches you used earlier in failure, only to be informed that, ah, your computer was busily backing up files (that you neglectfully allow to go at risk) and further that you could continue what you were doing without interrupting the process.

Your earlier mechanical problem resulted in what you considered rather snippy notes alleging either that your HP Photosmart C4580 wireless printer was not communicating with your computer or that your printer was already in use (moonlighting?) somewhere else. This had caused you some concern and some asking for favors since this is the precise time you need to be printing out a book-length to submit to a publisher. As you keyboard more of these lines, the HP Photosmart C4580 is busily churning out pages with the reassuring sounds of a machine that has been your friend and is, indeed, the very model of a modern writer's friend.

Although you have accomplished these things, you are not entirely sure how you brought about these conditions, much less could you instruct anyone else to have effected them. In a way that is of itself a linking device, you are similarly unsure how you brought about the final results of the book-length manuscript now transiting through said HP Photosmart C4580 except to say that you had a vision of a reference-guide-type of work, its format suggested to you years ago when a $1.50 paperback book, A Dictionary of American-English Usage (based on Fowler's Modern English Usage) came into your possession. Over the years, particularly once you began teaching, you nourished the idea of doing the same sort of thing for what you considered the language of story telling.

You do not consider yourself the host for the tapeworm of mechanical ability or understanding; unless you were dealing with the bright red Olivetti manual portable typewriter of your late twenties and into your thirties, your persistence or its lack determined your success in dealing with gadgets, tools, implements. It was also your persistence that kept you following the spoor of the story, tracking it until you reached a point where you sensed a familiarity with its behavior and its personality.

At the moment, all is going well. The major mechanical things in your life are functioning as they were designed to do; your book-length manuscript is churning merrily forth, another work is not only in mind, you have hit several seeming dead-ends in its plotting, only to have ridden the vehicle of persistence to some solution that appeared or occurred to you or appeared and occurred at the same time. You are launched into chapter seven of the novel you call The Secrets of Casa Jocosa. True, you are also propelled by enthusiasm, but in its way the process is as uncertain as your connection with mechanical things.

At any moment, the Internet connection could become quirky, the Airport Extreme router demand time off, the HP Photosmart printer begin a maddening series of paper jams; the scene in the works at Casa Jocosa could leave you at a dead-end or cul-de-sac or in the midst of some suburban sprawl from whence you cannot emerge.

Thus this recognition that persistence is best maintained on a steed of enthusiasm.

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