After writing that last epic note about a less than breezy week, I was feeling pretty good about life. That seems counter-intuitive, I suppose, but I had come out the other end not much worse than I had started- my car fixed for free, my cat problem avoided for no more than the cost of new litter, and an improved haircut (also free) all allowed me to look forward to breezing through the coming week.  I avoided various small catastrophes—each potentially expensive—all for the small price of $6. Knowing this, I could laugh about my silly experiences and felt kind of invincible. I expressed my philosophy to my mother on the phone:

“I mean, my cat peed on all my belongings, my hair’s gone, my car is crippled. Things can’t get any worse. It’s only going to get better from here.”  And let me just say, I’m pretty proud of my optimistic reasoning. People tell me I’m a cynical Eeyore, but this is proof to the contrary. I’m thinking positive! I’m growing emotionally! Nothing can stop me!

My mother laughs. “Oh, Josie, stop kidding yourself. Things can always get worse.”

*Potential emotional growth comes to a screeching halt *

“Thanks for the encouragement, Mom.”

 “I’m just saying, you say it can’t get worse, and from my personal experience, it always gets worse.”

And you wonder where I get it from.

Despite my nay-saying (but well-meaning) mother, I hang up the phone feeling only mildly deflated. Things are going well. Life is good and I’ve got a new perspective. I am turning a new leaf.

That was Sunday.

24 hours later I am anxiously waiting in the Apple store. One short hour before, I was working happily at the magazine on fun content for the website (shameless plug: go take the “What flower are you” quiz at, when suddenly my computer screen froze. Six failed attempts to restart later, I stand nervously beside a kindly Mac Genius in a positively packed Apple store.

As I look on, I can only think of one thing: I have nothing backed up. I know, I know, I should. But I don’t. I hover over Mr. Genius’ shoulder while he pushes a few buttons on my sickly Mac. He looks over at me pointedly and I move back a couple inches.

“What’s wrong with it?”


“Can you fix it?”

*grumble *

“Is it serious?”

*furrowed brow *

I’m hoping Mr. Genius and I don’t speak the same language or else I am picking up on some very bad signals.

He clicks here, he clicks there, and a little box pops up with little words in red that read, “repair failed.”

He clicks something else.

“Failed.” Click. “Failed.” Click. “FAILED.”

I put my fist up to my mouth and breathe into it to keep from hyperventilating. If I knew anything about computers, I’d say it looks like my hard drive has failed. Luckily, I don’t know much about computers.

“Well, m’am, it looks like your hard drive failed.”

Of course it has.

“Is your warranty expired?”

Of course it is.

 I think back to the day I purchased my Mac. A skinny salesman told me, “I’m not allowed to say Macs never crash, but it is very, very rare.” I kind of want to grab that skinny little Genius by his skinny little neck.

Instead, here in the present, a very concerned Genius is watching me.

“So am I going to lose all my stuff? My photos? My music?” I’m choking a little bit.

Genius clearly feels sorry for me. He pulls up a stool and gestures to me to sit down. A brief moment of conflict passes across his face before he leans in close to me.

“As far as Apple is concerned about your music….no, there’s nothing we can do.” He looks pointedly at me. I feel like something conspiratorial is going on. He’s trying to tell me something.

“That’s all I’m allowed to say,” he says, and he nods with meaning.

 I nod like I understand, too. Unfortunately, I don’t get it. I understand he means I can save my music off the ipod. I get that. But without him telling me how, how am I supposed to manage it? I could Google it…but I have no computer. Because it died.

Suddenly it all hits me:

1000 songs

3000 photos

Years of school papers

All gone. The rims of my eyes begin to feel hot.

In that moment, I have to accept what I didn’t want to consider: My mother is right. Things can always get worse, and in this case, it did. Everything that meant anything to me that could be saved on a computer…was saved on that hard drive.

Mr. Genius tells me he will try his best to rescue whatever he can from the drive, but he slides a piece of paper in front of me that waives Apple’s responsibility if nothing can be done. I nod, sign a few papers, thank Mr. Mac Genius and walk out into the cold rain.

You know how in the Charlie Brown cartoons, when someone cries? The head goes back, the mouth opens wide and takes up half of the face, and the tears leap out into the air like a leak has been sprung somewhere. I guess I decide since I have the Lucy haircut anyway that this is the proper way to do things. I pull out my phone and call Laura. I don’t think she can really understand me, but she is very comforting. I stop crying long enough to pull out into traffic. I stop at a red light. It makes me think of little red words flashing “driver failed”. The waterworks start again.

I pull into my apartment complex and head straight for my bed. When I wake up, it seems some sense has been knocked into me. It feels that way, anyhow, because I have a monstrous headache. With the hysterics abated, I begin to think a bit more clearly:

Unfortunately, I am one of those ridiculous girls who has twenty-something albums on her Facebook. Then again, I’m one of those ridiculous girls who has twenty-something albums on her Facebook. So at least a portion of my photos are salvaged. For the rest…I feel nothing. It’s happened, there’s no way to go back and change it, so the only option I have is to move on. So, there. I’m officially over it.  They say your computer is just a bunch of zeros anyway, right? As I have this thought, I belatedly realize I didn’t pay for anything. I look closer at my receipt and see a row of zeros. Mac Genius didn’t charge me for my new hard drive. I must have been really pathetic.

A few days later I picked up my computer and brought it home. I turned it on and held my breath—it started fresh like a new computer. I have a new keyboard, mousepad, everything—so it even looked like a new computer. I don’t know if it’s a sign of the times or what, but now somehow I feel like I’m starting over as I stare at my empty Macbook. We pour so much information into these little boxes, essentially it’s like an extension of ourselves. I’d already chopped off all the memories that went with my hair, and now here I am, forced to part with all the work and memories I’d stuffed into this little black box that sits beneath my fingertips. Forced reboot.

It turns out I am smart enough to figure out how to rescue my music off my iPod, but my photos are absolutely gone. I’ve begun the slow process of dragging each and every individual photo off my profile and onto my desktop, then into my iPhoto. As far as my college papers go…it’s not like I went back and read them for amusement, anyway. So that’s that. Of course, the obvious fact most anyone would rush to tell me is that the memories I’d saved up on my hard drive aren’t really gone as long as I remember them—I just can’t access the physical pictures and words I wrote when they each happened. This is true, and if people were able to be content with that hundreds of years before me, then I can too. MAYBE.

But I bought a back-up drive for my future data, just in case. You should do the same.