I am writing this on my assistant, back-up computer, and while I write this, I am watching my REAL computer delete every single thing it has in its memory.

This is not for the faint-hearted, believe me. In fact, next to childbirth and having my wisdom teeth removed and one bad day when I thought I was going to have to have a root canal but then received a dental pardon, I think this may be the hardest thing I’ve ever watched. This is because I know that I am losing all the music that I have so painstakingly downloaded from iTunes (and, yes, NEVER BACKED UP ON DISKS, because who would think a year-old computer would break down). I have had to sit here and know that this computer–this computer whom I have loved and polished and cooed over and dusted the dog hair out of and even VACUUMED (when I hardly vacuum anything)…yes, this very computer has betrayed my trust, and is right now losing all my emails, including the addresses of people I may never find again. And the list of all my Bookmarks on the Internet.

Sigh. If you never hear from me again, you will know why. I lost you when my computer contracted Technological Alzheimers. (Try me again–please!)

Anyway, I am not going to rant and rave. Before its spectacular death this time, at least, the computer was willing to hand me back: my novel, all the newspaper stories I have written since the last computer meltdown, letters and photographs, and a couple of videos I took from my camera. And beyond that, I’m not going to rant and rave because I had a splendid day today that included hanging out with little kids in a pumpkin patch, and then eating ice cream cones while we watched llamas saunter around and a goat climb onto a roof at the little farm near our house.

(82% of my computer is now erased. The program that is taking all this away has a very Orwellian name: Destructive Recovery, which the Tech Person on the phone did not seem to find ironic at all, even when I laughed.) (Really! Who THINKS of these names??)

To catch you up to date, though, the computer failed spectacularly a few weeks ago when I was at Starbucks ready to write many scenes of my novel. You know how it is: you sit down AT LAST knowing what you’re going to do with that character, and you’ve figured out the ending, and you also know that you need another secondary character and you know that her name is Lori…and then your computer refuses to turn on, just directs some angry-sounding beeps your way. The people in Starbucks turn and stare at you as if you’ve polluted the office atmosphere there.

So, after a few phone calls, the computer went off to visit with its makers at HP…and then it FINALLY came back home, all shiny and enthusiastic, and sporting a a new motherboard, a new fan, a new screen, and a sound card.

Then it wouldn’t boot up. And its only explanation was that it had error OOx0000008. Thanks.

(Ohhh! It’s now finished with the destruction recovery. It is saying, “Please wait…”)

At least it is very polite now that it’s been visiting its origins.

(Now it’s inviting me to restart my computer, and if I do not see the Blue Screen of Death, then I can go along on my merry way loading up programs again, but, as the technician on the phone said, if I DO see the Blue Screen of Death, then–well, THEN all hell will break loose, and I have to get HP to send me a new hard drive, and then I have to wait for days and days more. Weeks, even!

Isn’t the suspense here just palpable?

(ACK! The blue screen! But wait. It’s a different blue screen, a KINDLY blue screen. It says, “Please wait while Windows prepares to start…..” and then nothing happens for a very long, a breath-takingly long time.)

Anyway, it was a beautiful fall day outside, and last night we went to our town’s little country fair and saw the pigs and the cows and we rode on the rides, and it’s so much fun to get caught up in all that again when you are with an almost five-year old and a baby of 16 months. Although word to the wise: it is NOT a good idea to take a baby of 16 months on a Ferris wheel, especially an enormous baby who is fighting and squirming and screaming and trying to eject himself over the side, especially when the little swinging cart is at the very, very top. Just saying, for next time. No Ferris wheels.

(Windows is now thanking me for purchasing this computer, playing a very soothing lullaby-type song, and asking me to “spend a few moments here setting up my new computer.”)

And…and….by god, we have had a successful encounter, Windows and I! I THINK WE HAVE ACTUAL SUCCESS!!  It has set up the computer, it will agree to accept the thumb drive with my novel, etc., upon it. There is even a slight, slight chance it will remember me and restore my emails to me. And I’ll reintroduce it to the camera, the iPod, and my Internet provider, my bookmarks, my youtube favorites, my blog. All of that.

And I’ll start backing things up. I promise this time. No, really.