Two winters ago, I went to turn my laptop on, and it entered a state of what I like to think of as “torturous computer foreplay” — it pinged on, went to a blue screen and started loading. And loading. And loading. Four hours later, in desperation, I googled “computer won’t load” on my mother’s creaking old desktop. There were a lot of hits, but they all essentially translated to “you’re screwed.”
That was what the nice man at the Apple store told me too — or rather, he said, “Your hard drive has died and it will cost you $500 because you did not have the foresight to purchase insurance,” but it amounts to the same thing. Also, I lost all my photos. And my music. And those notes from Introduction to International Relations that I was totally going to keep forever in case I needed to appear knowledgeable about the state of the non-electronic world.
But I gritted my teeth and paid the money and started backing up my files and figured that the worst had happened and at least it was all over.
And then, one month ago, smiling the carefree smile of the student done with her finals, I opened my computer and tried to turn it on. It made a short whirring sound, like the revving of an engine, and then faded to silence. I tried again: it revved and died. And repeat — there I was, desperately hitting the power button over and over again like one of those Skinner pigeons who hasn’t quite gotten the concept yet.
“Your logic board has died,” the nice man at the Apple store told me. “This will cost you $300. Unless you have AppleCare — you do have AppleCare, right?”
No, I did not have AppleCare. I also did not have a computer for a long time, during which I could not do the following: check my grades, re-check my grades, complain on facebook that my grades hadn’t been posted, and check my grades for the fourth time in a five-minute span. From what I could glean by using the glacially slow internet on my mother’s old computer, “checking grades” was the most popular internet-based activity among Yale students during winter break.
That’s not even completely an exaggeration — my roommate posted a Facebook status about her lack of grades, and it got seventeen commiserating comments within the next few days, one of which was “I know! I’ve been checking every day!”
If the internet didn’t exist, we would presumably get our grades in the mail, like I did in those bright high school days of yore. In other words, we would forget about them until they arrived, nestled in an official Yale envelope: only then would we proceed to have complete nervous breakdowns. But the internet does exist (and, unlike my Luddite high school, Yale embraces its existence) — and with that existence comes the promise of guaranteed immediacy.
Without my laptop, I felt lost, rudderless — not so much because I couldn’t access the internet when I needed to (I had, of course, my mother’s ancient desktop), but because I couldn’t take it everywhere with me, have it instantaneously, whenever and wherever I wanted. Doing things online took longer, and I was out of practice being patient.
Then I got my computer back, of course, and I forgot all about my musings on patience with the return of my high-speed internet and working logic board. Until, that is, I tried to log into OCS.
“It hasn’t been working that well,” said my roommate anxiously late Sunday night, staring at her own computer. And she was right: just like a computer with a failing hard drive, it loaded and loaded and loaded and no course listings appeared. We tried switching wireless networks, browsers, even locations, all in vain. Finally, in desperation, our eyes lighted on the physical Blue Book, sitting quietly in a dusty corner of my desk.
“We could…” I suggested, hesitantly. She considered it, then shook her head.
“No,” she said. “That just takes so long, you know?”
And, together, we returned to watching a webpage that wouldn’t load.