April 15, 2008

Everyday Use

So, this morning while working away while at our lovely local coffee shop I up and dropped my WHOLE CUP OF COFFEE onto my laptop.  The whole thing, onto the keys, drip drip drip, and out through the battery slot on the back.  

Now, as you join in the collective gasp of horror issued at that moment by every coffee shop witness, including some meddlesome geek who asked the barrista if she "had a blowdryer" to dry out the computer (what, in her purse?) as well as Brandon and the crazy scone lady, let me assure you that probably probably probably this is fine, the computer is fine, plus it's totally under warranty, and plus I have a print out of my most recent chapter draft, and plus, here I am, typing on another household computer.  It's fine.

Still, though.  I mean, my laptop.  My laptop.  I might as well say, my life's work.

I had to go sit in a comfy chair in the corner and fiddle and be all like my laptop, my laptop (here I think of Shylock, having royally fucked up, my ducats, my daughter) and really hang out there with the fact that really, I couldn't blame that spilled coffee on anyone else, and probably not even on Elliot who wasn't there, and probably not on being sort of tired from giving blood yesterday, and probably it was just my fault.  
Which is the sort of thing I have to be really meditative about, because like most people I have the tendency to have a gut reaction of being crabby and angry when I've done something careless or wrong, and then take that out on other people who might point out (not that anyone did, as it was obvious) that it was my fault, because then they are picking on me when I feel bad and I might have been careless but they are being MEAN, which is WORSE.  

This is such a disturbing part of the human personality--to emotionally compensate for our failures by bringing others down with us.  [edited to add--i'm just reading through this and noticing another means of emotional compensation to which I am prone, which is me being all "well, I might be careless but at least I am wise," which is great, but it doesn't dry out your laptop.]   

Anyway.  I sat there in my chair and thought about Elliot, and how he will break things and spill things, and I will have to teach him to not be careless, but also be nice to him, because being careless or just not careful enough with something special feels so bad.  But mostly I thought about how the hard thing about being a grown up is that you have to allot your own portion of guilt, and sit with it, and then also forgive yourself when your penance is done, and no one but you can decide when that is, when it's okay to pat yourself on the back and say, it's okay, you didn't mean to, you'll do better next time.  


Amy E said...

Oh Sarah, I am sorry to hear this. Yes, mistakes and accidents do happen. To all of us.

I recently banged my head repeatedly when I accidentally, VERY accidentally, moved my main folder to the trash and emptied half of it before I even noticed that over 12,980 files had deleted in mere seconds. My last backup was a year ago. This is nobody's fault but my own. Fortunately I stopped the deletion process halfway through "photography." P-Z is gone forever, forever, forever.

I completely understand what you're talking about. Sometimes I'm not sure which is worse - that feeling one experiences as a child when one has done something wrong and knows one's parents are furious and privileges may be withheld - OR, one's self-guilt and punishment as an adult.

My least favorite time to get frustrated with myself is athletically in the company of others - like last summer bushwacking up Cloudripper Peak, I had worn the wrong shoes and was stuck with lateral sway 2 inches right and left for days, over boulders, which kept me hiking 20 minutes behind my partners with greater effort. I was furious with myself for bringing the wrong shoes. Fortunately I kept my temper to myself and concentrated on drinking water and listening to my iPod, but it took a lot of effort to keep my anger with myself, to myself. The people I was with were strangers; had they been more familiar to me, like a boyfriend, I might have complicated the mistake by transferring the anger to them.

Just this past weekend, I was backcountry snowboarding and forgot my ski poles to assist with the hike up, and I kept slipping and sliding down, 1 step forward, 3 steps back. I was understandably frustrated with myself, then my partners started talking about Spitzer (probably my least favorite news item, EVER) and I just started swearing and tirading and drained myself, emotionally, for which I suffered the rest of the day - physically.

So, in short, yes, it is challenging as an adult to control one's self-guilt, self-letdown, self-error, etc. Very hard. And harder still to keep it from affecting others around you. I'm not very good at it. I try to improve via consciousness and concentrating on the present moment.

Beck said...

My whole life is really just a long series of me hurting myself/wrecking my stuff, so I really know what you're talking about.

Sheree said...

Did it recover?
I once spilled water in the number pad of a keyboard at work. The number 8 never worked again. I used the keypad constantly and had to suck it up and live with it for months.
Granted the number 8 doesn't equate to the whole machine. But its a little glimpse of the horror and shame.