Saturday, August 22, 2009

On the Fritz

So I come back from Asheville Wednesday morning, all fired up to write a happy little blog about my adventures, turn on the laptop, and then *poof*. Dead. I'm pretty sure the motherboard died, since the lights are on, but nothing comes on.

You know the scream Voldemort screamed when the last of his Horcruxes bit the dust? Does not compare to the scream I screamed when I realized that my constant companion/security blanket/link to the outside world was toast. Well, it's not really toast. We can replace the motherboard (though it would probably be cheaper and a better use of the money to buy a new laptop outright). But I can't replace the hundreds of pictures/digital copies of my novel/MyPublisher book that was to be Sam's Christmas present that are all still stuck on the hard drive. I want all of that back very very badly.

I also want to get as far away from Tom's desktop computer as I can. I hate typing at this thing. I feel tethered to the wall and I keep banging my knees on the desk. I never liked working at a desk. I was always an indian-style-on-the-floor studier (except in college, when I discovered the second floor window seat in the stairwell of my dorm) and this is really cramping my style. As a result, I'll probably end up writing a whole lot less than I do even now, which as we all know, is not much.

So anyway... Asheville.

The book I have not yet begun to write takes place on Bearwallow Mountain (Henderson County, NC in the area of Gerton/Bat Cave/Flat Rock) during the Great Flood of 1916. It was a 100 year flood that hit the mountains especially hard, as at that time people got their water from mountain springs and built their houses near them. Great idea if you're thirsty. Horrible idea if there's a flash flood in the area. I wanted to see the area, hear the stories, and get a sense of what day to day life was like. So I kidnapped my Aunt Myrtle, who lived in the area much of her life and whose husband was born that year (prematurely, as a result of the stress from the flood actually). Sunday afternoon I interviewed her for a couple of hours and then Tuesday morning we drove out to Gerton so I could take pictures of the area. I have a much better sense of the place and the people who lived there now. Plus, to my everlasting joy, Aunt Myrtle produced a transcript of an interview with my Aunt Hattie and Uncle Hal, Gerton residents born in the 1890s who essentially "told" me what Aunt Myrtle could not. Then my Uncle Pete produced a freshman English paper he'd written on mountain folk remedies--using Aunt Hattie and Uncle Hal as sources. Everything was coming together so nicely. I had some great material to work with.

But of course, I hit a snag. It's only inevitable when you're working from your imagination. I was kind of hoping there were no doctors in the area, but there were, and traveling nurses too. Plus, there were no Cherokee in the area to speak of, and people who had Cherokee blood either didn't know it or kept it hidden. These were some major plot points I had hoped would fall into place, but, to channel Tim Gunn for a moment, I'm just going to have to find a way to "Make it work." (I am so excited that Project Runway is back!)I had also hoped that no one had seen a car yet in those parts, but of course they had. And I was surprised to learn that they weren't nearly as insular as I had been led to believe. My Uncle Hal actually worked in New Jersey for a time. So I have kinks to work out. They aren't insurmountable kinks, but they will require some thinking on my part. Luckily, none of the plot problems I'm encountering effect the main story I plan to tell and I heard some truly hilarious stories that I can't wait to weave into the plot.

While we were in Asheville, I also decided to take Sam to his first movie ever. My Aunt Rhonda and I got tickets to see G-Force in 3D and Sam was all excited about the 3D special effects during the previews. And then the movie started, I looked over, and he was fast asleep. Since neither Aunt Rhonda nor I thought we could stomach two hours of crime-fighting guinea pigs, we picked Sam up and headed down the hall to watch Julie/Julia instead.

I loved the movie and could relate to it on so many levels (none of which, incidentally, was an interest in French cooking). I, too, see writing this blog as a discipline, even though my posts are sporadic. I also struggle a lot with the question "Am I writer or just a blogger?" Like Julie, I get insanely happy every time someone new subscribes to my blog (I'm up to 14 subscribers! Whee!) and I love reading all the comments they leave. I have a friend/fellow blogger/subscriber, Kimberli, who writes an awesome travel blog who has started getting a lot of attention lately. She's been cited by major newspapers and was interviewed on a local TV show. I would be delirious with joy if that ever happened to me. Which is kind of funny, because when I started this blog, I assumed it would be lost forever in cyberspace, and used it mostly to track my progress on my book and post some cute baby pictures for my friends to see. I didn't label my posts, or advertise my web presence in any way. So imagine my surprise when I got an email one day from some random woman saying she was starting up a group blog for creative mothers, had discovered my blog, and would I like to be a contributor? I remember thinking to myself, "Wow! People I don't know are reading this blog. I desperately need to get my you-know-what together!" Like Julia, and her decades-long correspondence with Avis De Voto, I consider Miranda and the other women on that blog ( some of my closest friends and most ardent supporters. And none of it would've happened if I hadn't started writing this.

Later in the week, Aunt Rhonda and I also slipped out to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Another great Harry Potter movie. And it made me feel really cool since I can't tell you the last time I saw two movie-theater movies in one week. It had to have been decades ago, if ever. It inspired me to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows over again (a balm for my grief at losing my laptop). I have read the book several times already and am always sad that the series has come to an end.

And since I'm a nervous wreck and going through web-surfing withdrawl, I have started filling my time with productive activities like finishing the felt Christmas stockings I started working on last year and couldn't complete in time. John's came together very nicely yesterday morning, and hopefully I can get mine whipped together in the next couple of days. Now that the mornings are getting darker and fall activities are starting to pop up on the calendar, I feel like it's time to get them finished.


  1. wow, you covered alot in this one!

    i am so sorry about the laptop death - especially the pictures.

    i love that you are taking ancestral research stuff and weaving it all together in your head before really getting down to the writing. that's a lot of the way i work - mull, collect, shape then write...i also love that you are talking to family members and discovering their own research. i worked on a project years ago about ancestry and was lucky to discover my uncle had done a ton of research on my mother's side. he copied and emailed it to me over twenty years ago. darned if i can't find it now. i would love to have that now to share with my kids.

    i also rarely do it, but love going to the movies...

    and i consider the women of cc among my closest friends now, too! odd that we haven't even met....

  2. I was happily reading along, mourning with you over the loss of your motherboard (we purchased an external hard drive and periodically back up files on it), and then got totally absorbed in your report of your trip to Asheville, so I didn't quite catch that it was my blog you were talking about until I read my name--twice. Thanks for the mention! Funny, I thought my posts were going into cyberspace, too, and didn't have a clue otherwise until someone at one of the attractions I covered left a comment.

    You just never know.

    I know what you mean about that tethered feeling with desktops. I now have a hard time using one. Hope you're portable again soon.

  3. Since I love your Monday Pages blogsite for creativity, I thought I'd bounce over here and take a peek- I was sorry to see what happened to your laptop ~ you're right that a new motherbooard is an expensive repair if you can find one. We own a mobile PC repair service and I wanted to assure you that it looks quite probable that the hard drive is intact, therefore your documents and pictures (and email address book, etc.) are all still there and easily accessable- all you need is a $50. transfer cable or have a professional "transfer the data" over to your new PC/laptop if you get one. Call around for hourly charges, it usually isn't a set price because data files can be a lot or a little (photos can be large and usually takemore time than document or music files).
    By the way- a "refurbished machine" might be the way to go ($215 or so with Windows XP already on it), or check out what colleges might be selling off (they usually offer 1 year old machines w/the XP disks with them for $25 instead of new $150.) Office is also another expense- but is another option on that. In my humble opinion, the only real perk to getting a new machine is getting the free upgrade to Windows 7 included. Good luck with this problem!!!

  4. That's great news! Where would I get the transfer cable and would I be able to transfer the data myself? I'm hopeless when it comes to technology. Plus, I have a black thumb when it comes to computers. My college computer (2 computers ago) suffered 3 motherboard failures and a hard drive failure in its first 2 years (luckily I had bought a service plan) which I do not have with my laptop because my husband thought it was a waste of money. Wish I had it now...


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