Sunday, May 31, 2009

What I Lost

This is the first blog post I've written on somebody else's computer.

The reason: My hard drive has died. Kaput. Gone. Swimming with the fishies. It made a terrible death gurgle that out-screeched the TV, flipped M and me and then it was good night. Metaphorically speaking. (No way M was going to bed after that drama.)

About a year ago, Hilary (she of doctor and friendship and great taste fame) had a terrible break in at her home. The criminals got away with ten thousand bucks worth of stuff. Mere stuff to them but beautiful, loved heirlooms according to Hil and her family. The worst loss, bar none, was that of the computer. This isn't because Hil loves the computer so desperately that she can't bear to be without it. No, indeed. The computer stored all of her photos, those of her children from birth and on, those of great times and places.

There was no back up. Hilary's husband apparently made one but it was somehow lost in the chaos of the burglary. It was very hard accepting this.

Hilary bore up to the loss and violation with tremendous grace. It took months to set things right again and with young kids and 2 jobs, it was not easy. Never mind managing the emotional after effects... (She has worked ceaselessly to amass photos from others - fairly successfully - since then.)

I mention this because not one year ago I observed this hideous experience - the pain of losing everything meaningful on one's computer - and yet, absurdly, I did not have a back up of the thousands of photos and - more to the point - writing on my own computer.

Let's feel free to debate my foolery. I mean, to make matters categorically more idiotic, my husband runs two businesses that provide (among other things) infallible back up solutions for computers.  It's not like I don't understand the value in taking steps to save one's important objects. I'm a girl with 8 forms of insurance. I'm the uber-administrative parent. I've signed my donor card. I'm responsible.

But somehow, every time I said to Scott, I really need to back this thing up. Could you do that for me? (yes, it's totally passing the buck) he'd say, Just get a disk, there's one on the third floor. You know how to do it, and it wouldn't happen. It would be 11 pm after a day that had started at 6:30 am encompassing zillions of obligatory, tiresome activities and I just let it slide.

And now I have the opportunity to reflect on my laziness at leisure.

I'm not a girl who deals with loss well. (Few do, I recognize, but I've got a whole life history predisposing me to hover at the margins in the face of change. It's not like stability was the hallmark of my early life.) And yet, I'm feeling reasonably sanguine about this. I've lost things. They're gone. They won't be coming back. And that's ok.

It's not like when your parents leave your adopted country and you're 19 and you know it's for good and you're the only member of your family left behind. It's not like when your dearest friend moves away - and you know it's for good - and a little piece of yourself curls up in the corner in a heap. It's not like when you fear desperately that your new baby is going to die and there's not a thing you can do except wait and pray. It's not like when you're 4 and your well-meaning (but young and clueless) parents move you half way around the world to suit the tide-change of their lives without bothering to mention it to you in advance. It's not like continuing to move, again and again, year after year, struggling to forge an identity in the absence of constancy in the presence of terrible anxiety.

It's just some words and pictures and music.  Last time I checked, all that moving made me good at starting again.

So here goes.


  1. I know - backing up is so essential but somehow always something easy to put off - doesn't matter how many scare stories or the SATC episode - I'm still rubbish.
    You've been v sanguine indeed!

  2. same thing at chez scoffs. hard drive murdered with nary an alien pod replacement. still trying to resurrect the corpse. I refuse to accept my pictures are gone forever.

  3. I am the worse at backing up too! You've reminded me to do that as soon as I get home. Hang in there with the broken computer situation, it is awfully frustrating.

  4. Did you get THE BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH? That's the worst sight...Don't worry, everyone (including me) talks about backing up the computer and no one ever does. At least you're not alone.

  5. this happened to me a few months ago. i started to cry. the eyes watered, then i suddenly thought OH WELL. MARCH ONWARD. not much you can do except MAYBE try and prevent it in the future. that is something i have not done yet either. hahahahah!!!

  6. K< I want to tell you to back up to Gmail, tonnes of storage and you dont have to go upstairs to get the disc. But what I am really interested in is the stories of world moving and parent moving and more moving>>>????

    xxxx and more xxxxx

  7. Well, I've done all that world moving and parent farewellilng and stuff - but I still don't think it would make losing my photos any easier to bear. You're a better woman than me to be as reflective as you are.

    Thankfully my husband is an assiduous backer upperer or we'd be living in fear of a similar loss, as I am hopeless.

    I hope that some kind of miracle happens and the photos can be retrieved from the ruins.

  8. i remember my computer died on me 2 seconds after i saved my final portfolio for college. it was literally i turned my back to reach for something turned around and the black screen of death!
    ive since done some backing up of stuff, but i do that maybe once every 2 years...

  9. Happened to me earlier this year, I've just plugged in my external hard disk and I'm starting a backup NOW!

  10. Loss can be a release, and it looks like you know that.

    I think you're going to be okay.

  11. dead HDD is not the end of the world.. data can be retrieved.

    Well, enc's wisdom. :)

    Loss can be a release. I haven't heard that before but me likey.

  12. We all sing the same song it seems. I used to be a computer professional who backed up all my clients and yet I did not back up my own computer. Until it failed. Then there was the time a disk failed, and I was too busy with work (no longer in computers) so I had the Dell rep come and fix it (warranty) and he (stupid S***) wrote the new empty hard drive over my back up disk and wiped it out too. Now I have a simpler system that works automatically. At least I hope so.

    I have learned that no matter what you do or don't do, something unexpected can happen.

  13. Oh dear--it *is* hard to start over, no matter what the situation. My hard drive crashed a few weeks ago, too, and I hadn't backed up anything, but the IT chaps at my college magically pulled off my files. Perhaps yours can be salvaged too?

  14. the computer i had before this one caught on FIRE... it wasn't in a fire that happened to burn it, it actually burst into flames by itself, while i was using it. i had been lucky enough to have a back up, but it was from six months prior, and in that time i had started blogging, so i lost all my early original photos.

    that said, i still only back up every six months or so, or whenever my current computer fills up and i have to dump some data. (sounds lovley) oddly enough, i'm jonesing for a terrabyte external hardrive, which some people think only porn collectors have reason to have so much space.

    don't get me started.

    i hope you get a new computer soon mydear.

  15. I do think that any loss, big or small, brings up all old losses to some degree. A computer holds so much of our lives and it is so painful to lose what they hold. I have lost two hard drives and I still mourn what was in them.

    You have survived so much loss and it seems as if you are aware of some of the gifts the losses have given you. Resilience is an incredible gift and one that cannot be taken from you.

  16. So sorry to hear about this - isn't it interesting how one interprets this kind of thing, though? As Belette says, you have an amazing gift of resilience.

  17. you have just put into words my worst fear. i need to back up immediately. i like your attitude towards it though, what else can you do.

  18. You know there must be a market for a Sanitorium that just takes people severely affected by technology for recovery. I know that I would have them on speed dial in case of an event like this. RIP.

  19. For starters, thanks to everyone for these heartfelt and thoughtful comments. I'm muddling through, trying to figure out what to do next. After my preposts end this weekend, I am likely going to take a week off from the blog (I'll notify y'all formally by post) because I just need some time to sort this all out...

    Kate: Thank you! I have better moments and, well, occasionally I get maudlin.

    Tessa: It's quite a kick in the gut. I hope your pictures can be resurrected...

    E8: Do the backup! Do it now!!

    Wendy: Thank you so much for your comment. It truly made me feel better. And yes, it was the blue screen of death.

    droll: You raise such an interesting point. Will I actually start backing up like a fiend when I finally fix this problem? I really hope so...

    Hammie: I'm going to look into that option, thank you. And, so much time for more posts to talk about the other things. Stay tuned...

    Skye: How wonderful that your husband has the back-up gene! I'm sure you'd be more philosophical than you think you would. And, occasionally, I've been less than I suggest I am :-)

  20. ~h - what a tale! I'm so glad you averted the disaster!

    Imogen: Very smart. Back up away!

    E: What a smart way of looking at this. Very simple statement, very deep subtext. I'm going to have to think more on that... Thanks!

    Songy: Isn't E smart? I could take the hard drive to the specialists to have them try to retrieve the data but it's likely to cost more than a thousand bucks. I don't know if I can justify that cost as it's possible it won't work anyway. Scott is trying to see if he can get it back too...
    (At this point, the whole computer looks like it's fried.)

    Mardel: Thanks for your comment. Makes me feel a bit better about my action (or inaction). Strangely, my computer was a Dell. I know they're crap but I inherited it and free computers are, well, free. Till they break :-)

    Miss C: I'm hoping for a similar miracle. Know that you got very lucky!!

    Jennine: My husband has one of those hard drives. I'll let you draw your own conclusions :-) And what a story about your computer. Freakish! You must have just flipped. Thank you for sharing...

    Bel: That's it! I'm resilient. I love that!! And I'm sorry about your hard drives. I'm amazed by how many people have struggled through this same circumstance...

    Andrea: Sometimes I think about how much you've been through in your short life and I consider how easily I've had it. You, my dear, are resilient!

    Pink: Do not pass go. Just get out the memory stick and save!!

    SKM: That's what I need. A support group!! (Well y'all here are fulfilling that function, thank you!)