The morning of Tuesday, February 21st, 2006 was the fateful day that will forever be known to me as the big crash of '06. I woke up that morning, rolled over and looked at the alarm clock. Nothing, so I looked to the cable box for the clock, nothing. In my groggy state, I grabbed my cell phone, flipped it open for the time. 7:45 a.m. SHIT!! I'm late! I raced into the kitchen, desperately hoping that I would find electricity there, I needed my coffee, or I would be no good for the day. No luck there either, so I pouted my way into the bathroom to throw myself together.
Just before I left, I decided to go back into the kitchen to turn off the coffee maker, just in case the electricity came back on before I returned and scorched my little ghetto shack to the ground. Just as I reached out to turn it off; the bright red light came on. Hot damn, the power is back! My first stop was the computer, I turned it on, only to find a black screen with the words "disc error; press Ctrl, Alt, Delete to restart. So I did, but it did not. So I did it again and again and again and again, I tried the power button on the tower, I tried unplugging and re-plugging it, but I just kept getting the same message. I realized that now I had 6 minutes to get the office for one of the busiest weeks of the year, so I turned it off and raced out of the house, wishfully thinking that maybe it just needed to sit for a while.
Later that night, I watched carefully over the shoulder of my IT guy as he took apart the tower and put it back together, he tried over and over again different discs, and control functions. Finally, hooked up through his computer, he tried a recovery disc that let him bypass the normal routes and break in; he opened the only folder on the screen, "My Computer", only to find nothing, not one drive, not one folder, not one file, not even a jpeg. I knew in that moment, that it was going to be bad. He looked at me like a doctor must look at a patient before he tells them that they have 6 months to live. "It doesn't look good Stace. I'm going to take it back to the shop run some diagnostics and see what I can come up with." I watched him leave, my computer and my life under his arm. It was the last time I would see that big white box and somehow I knew it.
I got the call on Thursday, "Listen, your motherboard is blown, your power source is blown and your memory is blown. You are going to have to buy a new computer and the only thing I can do on my end is send the hard drive to a recovery center to see what, if anything they can find." A recovery center; He has to send my hard drive to a recovery center? Hell, I didn't even know it was using!
A recovery center is where you send your cousin, your kids or your ex when they have done too much blow. It is not a place you send 6 years worth of articles, photos, letters, memories, databases, e-mails and your last three tax returns. I don't want my hard drive to come back saying things like "You are making me feel vulnerable right now", like freaking Hetfield in that bad Metallica movie. I want it back dirty and gritty, with traces of smut, porn and tons of cuss words floating around in there. I want my drinking series back, untouched and fully in tact; I don't want a recovered, cleaned up version of my life, I want it back just exactly the way it was.
I don't watch TV, so the following week, I played my guitar until my fingers were searing, I had started and put down three different books, I had given myself a pedicure, groomed the dog and cleaned every crevice of the house. By Friday, I couldn't even play the guitar anymore; I just paced, back and forth in my living room, like a cat in a cage, brainless and staring at the horrors of American Idol for the first time in my life. I kept thinking, I needed to check my e-mail, I needed to work on my article, I needed to work on that database and I needed to upload some pictures.
I kept having phantom computer moments, where I would think that I heard the little ding that tells me I have an e-mail or I would think to myself that I needed to check the weather and would actually stand up to do just that, only to walk in and see a gaping space with endless cords and plugs laying silently on the ground like dead serpents and that black monitor staring blankly back at me. I had a headache and the thought of the hundreds and hundreds of e-mails trapped in cyberspace waiting for me to log on and press "send - receive" was almost unbearable.
It was Saturday night, when the ugly realization came. It wasn't my hard drive that needed a recovery center; it was me that needed therapy; I was the junkie. Had I become so obsessed with folders, files, e-mails, jpegs, EPS', megabytes and gigabytes, that I couldn't make it through an entire week without them? Had I become so accustomed to instant gratification that I couldn't even wait until the 10:00 news to find out the weather? Had I become so removed from personal contact that I would rather send or receive an e-mail than have to talk to another human on the phone? Did I rely so heavily on technology that even my photography needed to be downloaded?
Seven years ago, I remember clearly, standing in my roommate at the time, Gina's bedroom as she hooked up her new PC. She said, Stacie, you have got to get a computer; I don't know how you live without one. I looked at her and said, Puuulllleeeez, what the hell am I going to do with a computer? I have a typewriter, photo albums and I know the physical addresses and phone numbers of everyone I want to communicate with. One of those things would just be an expensive, technical dust trap for me.
It was only a short year later that I got the Gateway and since then, I have become blissfully lost in the net. I have been cyber-surfing, riding the wave, deleting and forwarding e-mails, checking websites, surveying weather patterns, downloading and uploading music, videos and my photographs. I have built, removed and rebuilt websites, learned to pay all my bills on-line, monitored my bank account, done my taxes, shopped for birthday and Christmas presents, found a local veterinarian, ordered dinner and solicited business. I have compiled databases, researched, topics, subjects and people. Tracked concert tours, promoted myself and others, watched webcams and subscribed to podcasts.
My world has become a series of 1's and 0's and logging on has become a way of life. I suppose, the big questions left are; is that a good thing? And did I learn anything from the experience? Will I make it a point to get through a weekend without turning it on? Will I set aside one night a week to not check e-mails, but learn a new song on the guitar instead? Will I vow to take a walk instead of researching some random topic on the net? Will I pick up the phone and call Susan rather than send her an e-mail to see what she is up to?
Well, the recovery center was able to retrieve every single file and the new system is a sleek and shiny beauty. It has a full gig of RAM and a 120 gig hard drive; it has twice as many bells and whistles as my old one and it is 3 times as fast. I can watch and burn DVD's right on it, it has built in wireless capabilities and because it is a laptop, I can take it anywhere and everywhere I want to. What do you think?
Honestly, you probably ought to shoot me an e-mail to answer that question, because I haven't been out of the house in two days and I turned off the phone an hour ago.
Jones is currently working in San Diego as a photographer & promotions director.
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