Once upon a time, dear galleons, I owned a PC.
It’s true. I am not proud of this fact, though I cannot say I am ashamed, either. The computer was not one I selected, after all. Purchased on Black Friday at Wal-Mart, it was a cheap laptop that was a Christmas gift given to me because my guidance counselor had told all the juniors (freshly ACT’d and SAT’d, poorer and mostly disappointed in their scores) that most colleges now required incoming students to have a computer of some sort. And despite their fervent bitching on the subject, my parents had grudgingly acceded to the wisdom of someone who actually understood something about the college experience.
These were the days before every member of my family owned their own computer. We had a communal desktop (an old eMachines model still running Windows 98) and dial up. As such, I didn’t tend to spend a lot of time on the internet. I used the computer for schoolwork. I checked my email every so often. I tried MSN Messanger a handful of times, but found it to be a supreme waste of my limited internet time (with dial up, I only managed to get online for short bursts unless it was late at night, as my mother didn’t want it interfering with the phone line).
Those days were a strange type of hell. I say that now, graced with the power of hindsight, filled with the knowledge of all I was missing out on during those days of ratchet-and-crank technology in my household. But I said it then as well. I was not immune to the charms of the Internet. Her siren song had long since cemented itself in my mind as a requiem of longing, a sanguine compulsion to experience all the wonders the web could afford me. I knew what the other kids did in the evenings (from gaming to porn, research to flash videos, forums to chat rooms).
If there was ever a strange time to be a bookworm, it was during those fulcrum years, the period when our world was truly beginning its shift away from printed material and toward the electronic epoch. These were those tentative first days, when teachers didn’t fully understand all the internet had to offer, when even the crappy Greybull library was still the first resource for papers and projects. My generation was coming into its own, and this was our transition period. The fact that I lacked the ability (and, therefore, the desire) to Xanga and IM with the crowd made me even more of an outsider than I already was.
I recognized all this as it was occurring (though I cannot say I knew then what a domineering bitch the Internet would become once I got intimate with her), but I lacked the resources to do much about it. I was not in control of the internet in my household. I was not yet proficient in navigating around the school firewalls in order to do all manner of devious, fun things on the net. And I didn’t even have a computer of my own, a tiny piece of tech heaven to delve into whenever I desired.
Even then, I realized I was missing something. It was a tangible lack of an intangible something that everyone else was experiencing. I was late to the technological puberty phase, and everyone was making fun of me in gym class.
It was middle school all over again.
To get back on track here, that gift of my first laptop was the moment when I became a new person. In some respects, a better person. One thing the internet has granted me, above all else, is instant access to more information, more knowledge, than I could ever conceive of in those days of ancient Brittanica encyclopedias. Of course, in many, many other respects, the internet has made a terrible person of me.
But we are all familiar with the evils of that whore of Babylon we call the interwebs, so we’ll move on.
My first laptop was christened Ghiert one night in the fall of 2006. I had owned him for nearly two years at this point, but I had never been one to name the inanimate objects I owned.
I know- this is the point where those of you who actually know me raise your eyebrows in combination confusion and disbelief, but there was a time when I didn’t name my electronics. The moment of Ghiert’s naming, however, was the point at which that all came to an abrupt and glorious end.
I remember being in my dorm room. It was late, and Grix, Ainsley, and I were piled on my bed, watching a movie on Shelley (Grix’s old beast of a laptop). Shelley had a senile moment, and while we all loudly lamented her failure (our moaning heightened by the screwdrivers we were drinking), I hurried across the room to disengage my laptop from the tangle of cords leashing it to my desk.
Upon returning to the bed, a new laptop in hand (and Shelley summarily relegated to floor status), Ainsley asked me what my laptop’s name was. Grix had Shelley, Ainsley had… oh shoot, for the life of me, I can’t remember what Ainsley’s was named. Regardless, it had a name. So, what was mine called?
I scoffed and explained that I didn’t name my computer. Only… about half of what I said came out in German (this was during my German studies, and I used to have a very bad habit of lapsing into it when intoxicated). Ainsley and Grix both started giggling. Ainsley then asked me what various words meant, and I answered as best I could. Then, she gives me this sly look and asks what “ghiert” means. It was not a word I recognized, so I just shrugged. She started giggling again and said she just made it up. We all cracked up.
In retrospect, I’m not sure why that was so funny…
For the rest of the night, we called my laptop by this imaginary word, laughing uproariously every time we did (and every time one of us managed to growl it out in a particularly guttural, wholly German fashion).
Somehow, the name stuck.
Ghiert 1.0 suffered many a torment, including having a 10ish ounce acrylic contact juggling ball dropped on its keyboard from a height of roughly four feet (I really shouldn’t have stored said ball on the top shelf of the bookshelves that used to sit on top of the Mason/Abbot desks). Ever after, the 4-6 and R-Y keys bowed noticeably in a small, sad arc. But I tried to take care of the silver beastie, keeping it clean and putting the very best spyware and virus protection software on it.
The problem, of course, was that Ghiert 1.0 was a cheap computer. A cheap computer with a very small amount of available RAM. This proved to be an insurmountable issue for me for one reason:
Kathie and Grix had finally convinced me to play WoW.
It haltingly ran on my computer, but it was so glitchy that I couldn’t stand to play it. When I bothered glancing through the system requirements, I realized I really didn’t have enough RAM for this puppy to work. Balls. Guess it was time to upgrade.
I knew next-to-nothing about buying RAM, but the incredibly attractive Andrew (he became a running joke for a while) of the Geek Squad at Best Buy helped hook me up. Anything for a girl who wanted to play WoW, for crying out loud. So, little memory chip installed, I settled in for some good old-fashioned WoWing. A game which I found, much to my surprise, to be rather fun (despite how much fun I’d poked at every else I knew who played).
Unfortunately, it was the end of the school year, and I was heading back to Greybull for three months of dial up disaster. By this point, I was a Facebooker, I had my very first AIM screenname (and IMed regularly) and was an internet junkie.
In short, I was going to die.
However, what with my own late-night proclivities and the revelation that WoW actually worked on a dial up connection, I soon found I could get by. The dial up was still pretty fucking torturous, but it was something.
One night after work, I was sitting in the kitchen, trying to teach my brother how to play WoW. He was seated at my laptop, his dwarf warrior running around like a moron. I was inwardly chuckling in that manner of the smugly superior gamer.
Then, the screen went black.
Because it was a Windows-based PC, I wasn’t overly concerned by the sudden crash (zing!). I just tried to reboot the sucker.
Except it wouldn’t reboot.
I leave it alone for a few minutes, then try again. No response. I remove the battery and put it back in. No response. I cry a little. No response. I’m flipping the fuck out. Eventually, as I sit there, pathetically jabbing the power button, the screen flickers to a slightly lighter shade of gray and the power button lights up. I’m frothing-at-the-mouth ecstatic at the sight.
I immediately get a BSoD. Of fucking course.
I try again. Same result. Only this time, after the BSoD, the screen goes a horrible shade of greenish-black, with random lines of color slicing vertically across the screen. I have never seen anything like this. Ghiert 1.0 looks beyond broken.
Naturally, I blame my brother.
After hopping on the ancient communal PC and Googling my problem (and waiting for-fucking-ever for the search results to be returned to me via dial up), I can’t figure out what’s wrong. And it’s not like I can just hop in the car and take it to the Geek Squad. First, because it’s, like, 4 in the morning. But second (and more importantly), because the nearest Best Buy is two hours away… in Montana…
To this day, I have no idea what possessed me to go get my old RAM chip. As per usual, I had traveled with all of my computer bric-a-brac (still do, I’ll have you know, because you never know when something like this is going to happen). So I switch out the two-week old RAM chip for the old one.
And like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Ghiert 1.0 lived again.
Of course, by this point, I hated that computer with every fiber of my being. It had caused me an undue amount of stress. It was a grudge I would hold for the next three months as I worked my shit summer job, shoveling the funds into my bank account with a malicious gleam in my eye.
Not more than a week after returning to EL, I found myself in Best Buy, buying my very first Mac.
It is not a decision I’ve ever regretted. I have bonded with Ghiert 2.0 (like my iPod, I’ve found it’s just not right to name my computer anything else) like a lover. I talk to him like a person. Him, you notice, not it. He’s a devilish, troublesome entity all his own. We fight. We make up. We go everywhere together. He’s like the clingy boyfriend I’ve never wanted, yet who somehow manages to make me happy.
However, Ghiert is three years old now. And his life has not been an easy one. I have dropped him all manner of times (including from my backpack onto the cement floor of the Sny/Phi basement… twice… while the backpack was on my back). His plastic casing is chipping off. He sports two tiny incisor marks from where He-Of-The-Oral-Fixation (*cough cough* BEN *cough cough*) bit him one day.
There’s no way around it- Ghiert is getting old. And I’m not just talking about the superficial bits, like his appearance. Lately, his performance has started rapidly going downhill.
When typing, I have to keep my palms from resting against Ghiert, else the pressure has a tendency to make the mouse click. In fact, the touchpad has lost its goddamn mind. Half my clicks don’t register. When typing, the touchpad comes alive at random, highlighting and deleting things as I go. I’ll lose entire paragraphs at the drop of a hat.
Command-Z has become my best friend, I shit you not. Typing this extremely long post (by the by, I apologize for that- once I started talking, I couldn’t stop, as is often the case with me) has been hellish.
Despite the fact that the pointer is hovering on the scroll bar on the side of the screen, my cursor will suddenly jump back three words and whatever I’m typing will end up sandwiched between what I’ve already fucking typed.
And, in the last week, Ghiert has started this new thing where, every so often, the mouse button just refuses to register. I can’t click anything until I hardboot the damn laptop.
Suffice to say, it’s becoming a major issue. And that means, before the year is out, Ghiert 2.0 is going the way of Ghiert 1.0, and Ghiert 3.0 will come into my life (in the form of a sleek and sexy MacBook Pro).
So, these coming weeks are the swan song of Ghiert 2.0. His time is coming to an end, and I can feel myself misting up just thinking about it.
Then he pulls the “magic moving cursor” trick on me again, and I decide that I’ll manage to get through it just fine.
In other news, in the shower this morning, I reached for my face wash and noticed it was sitting right next to a bottle of Axe body wash (both the males in my family use it). It was just after five in the morning, and I was reminded of a conversation I’d had the night before.
Naked, slippery laughter ensued.