It's been a while since I've written anything...not that anyone noticed. Nobody came to check on me. Not a single soul shot me a text, or a tweet, or a facebook message. Nothing, zip, zero, nada. I expected as much. I could be nothing but a bloated, rotting corpse by now and no one would even question..."Say, I wonder what ever happened to that Rusty Goat guy?"
Quite simply, my laptop died. Yes, the worst death...the BSOD. The blue screen of death! Right in the middle of a Windows 10 update, my trusty companion took its last breath. A horrible way to die, clinging to life support, unable to boot past that message of finality. Your laptop has drawn her last breath. She's dead, Jim! Deader than Twitter, more lifeless than Google Plus. Just a shell of what she used to be. I wept.
I took drastic life-saving measures, but I'm not a computer doctor. Finally, after a week of futile frustration, I tucked her away in a drawer of my desk and...what's this? Buried beneath a pile of discarded cables, cords, and miscellaneous computer debris from years gone by rested my 2002 model HP Pavilion. Would she work? Why had I banished her to the junk drawer a decade ago? I couldn't even remember. Dusting her off and finally locating a power cord that seemed to work, I eagerly pressed the power button. Nothing. I giggled the cord and she glimmered briefly. Ah yes, the cord had a short...I propped it up with a TV remote and angled the power cord at a sharp ninety degrees and she sprung to life. The sound of life came to my ears. A hard disk from the bowels deep within her whirled. The immense heat from the machine struggling to come to life was alarming. After fifteen minutes, she loaded, the sounds from her insides ceased. She sat peacefully before me, willing to answer my call to action. I opened Google Chrome...fifteen minutes later, it loaded. Well...damn!
A week later the package from Amazon arrived. I opened the box and gingerly lifted the one gig RAM card and a brand new battery to eye level. Would this bring my old classic laptop back to life? She had been running on 500 megabytes of RAM, which was sufficient back at the turn of the century. Nowadays, that won't even load Chrome, or Facebook, for that matter. After a successful RAM transplant, I booted her up and, yes...she sprung to life. An hour later, with a fully charged battery, I sat down in my easy chair with my old friend, eager to move forward with my life. Google Chrome loaded instantly with a warning, 'You are using Windows XP, buddy! Don't expect miracles!' After a few hours of research, I came to the dismal conclusion that, even with the additional RAM, the old processor running my Pavilion was not capable of much more than casually surfing the internet...which was what she was built for, after all. Words, in a Scottish accent, rang in my ears...
"She's giving us all she's got, Captain, but she's eighty years old in computer years. It's like putting Romo back in as quarterback!"
The other night I retrieved my dead laptop from the junk drawer and powered her up. The dreaded blue screen appeared as I knew it would. Just start pushing buttons, I told myself. Frantically and recklessly, I began. It was the F9 that unexpectedly brought me to a message, 'Do you want to boot with the last known good configuration?' Well, duh! Thirty minutes later the familiar little Windows flute sounded alerting me that the machine had come to life! I snatched her up from the coffee table a embraced her, cradling her in my lap. Wait...what's this? She had reverted back to Windows 7. I was okay with that. Wait...what's this? There was nothing...NOTHING on my machine. GONE were my pics, my saved blogs...my book I had been working on...ALL GONE! Well...damn!
The world has not ended, in fact, I needed this breather to regenerate...and to reflect. I discovered freedom during those weeks my life was void of the cyber world. I was amazed at how many chores I accomplished around the house. Without a computer running my life, I found balance. I finally repaired that sticking bathroom door. I cooked fabulous meals. I changed out that old shower head. Wow, was that ever awesome! I watched more Netflix. I visited my mom. I rearranged the living room. I went to the movies. I hung up new curtains in my bedroom, replacing the ones I bought back in the '90's. Yep, I had discovered life all over again. And it was good.
So I reflect. I question whether I want to go forward. I have pounded this endeavor into the ground, this futile attempt to carve out a niche for myself as a writer. I've worked tirelessly and relentlessly on my goal to share my thoughts with the world. As I mentioned, not too many people seem to care one way or another...it's not like anyone really missed me those few weeks. And you know what? I didn't miss you, either. True statement.
Quite simply, I had decided during my hiatus that I would stop writing these blogs. Blogging was popular a year ago, not so much now. Much has changed since then. Even social media has waned in popularity. We seek out other adventures...like Netflix. I really like Netflix! I could be catching up on 'The 100' right now instead of spinning tales of my own. I could be putting up the Christmas tree. And so...I reflect. Will I move forward with 'The Rusty Goat?' I reflect on when this all started, how it came to be, and where it will go next. If there is a next. If I decide to write another post, I shall share those reflections with you. Will I write another blog? I don't know. Will anyone read it? I'll not waste too much time fretting over that. Now, where did I put that Christmas tree?
It's been a tough week for me, just one of those weeks that beats a man down. And when I get beat down so far, I throw a party...a pity party. Weeks like this get me to thinking about how, if I were really honest with myself, truthfully...my whole life has been pretty tough. So, I've moped around for a day or two contemplating that perhaps I should throw in the towel. Give up. Not anything major, mind you, like eating rat poison. No, more along the lines of piling up on the couch, turning on Netflix, and devouring an entire family size bag of Lay's potato chips. If you know me, you know that if it comes to that, I've pretty much given up on life.
We all go through these little bumps in the road and I suppose we all handle it differently. Some drink. I'm not much of a drinker...I've still got a beer in the fridge from 1999. I just haven't had the urge to drink it. Some folks turn to drugs. The last time I laid eyes on any illegal substances was the night Sticky Nikki pulled a baggie out of her panties on some dark country road back in Nineteen Seventy Something. Ah, and there you have it. I just gave it away with that last sentence. When I get down and out, I go back...to Nineteen Seventy Something.
I wrote a book titled 'Nineteen Seventy Something' a few years back. It's a good book if I do say so myself. I wrote it during a pretty tough time in my life, much tougher than this week has been. Looking back, I didn't realize it then, but writing the book was a form of therapy, probably the best therapy I could have gotten. As I wrote what would become a fictionalized account of my early years, I began to realize just how bad those days were...and I never knew it at the time.
I found myself on my own at the age of seventeen with my senior year of high school looming ominously before me. I had a piddly job sacking groceries that brought me a paycheck of around seventy bucks a week. I had a car payment, rent, and all the usual bills, and somehow I had to feed myself with what was left over. If I had a twenty dollar bill in my pocket, I thought I was living in high cotton. More often than not, my money usually ran out a couple of days before payday, and most of those days, supper was a piece of bread or a few saltine crackers and the scrapings from an empty peanut butter jar. Those were the good weeks. There were weeks where I'd have to buy a tire or a starter for my car, or a jar of peanut butter. Then there was the senior ring, a tux for prom, and all those expenses that come with graduation. When the soles of my boots wore through to the pavement, I made insoles out of cardboard. That'd get me by for a few days, and then I'd put more cardboard in my boots. I suppose I could write a book about those times...oh yeah, I did.
Not much of all that made it in the book. When I allowed my memories to rattle loose from their hiding places within the depths of my mind, it wasn't those times that I remembered. It was the good times. Only in later years did I realize that in spite of all the trials and tribulations I endured in the seventies, I looked back on them as the good old days. I asked myself why and the only answer I ever came up with was...because I survived. And I grew up strong!
I was a kid at the end of his teen years, full of hope and dreams, and I never let anything take either of them away. I took life by the horns and held on tight for the ride of a lifetime. I never even considered failure a possibility. I worked forty hours a week and made the A honor roll. I was in the senior play, active in FFA, editor of the school paper, and won second place in state in the UIL journalism competition. I paid off my Plymouth Roadrunner and never missed a payment. I had friends, best friends. I had girlfriends...two at once and they didn't care! I discovered love of such magnitude that few would ever experience in a lifetime. I received a scholarship to college and never missed a day of class. I moved from a shack that had been converted from a chicken coop into a three bedroom, two bath house, charming and quaint...with carpet and air conditioning! I promoted up through the company to become the youngest store manager in its history...then promoted to become the youngest area supervisor ever. I accomplished all this before the age of twenty-one. Not one time did I ever consider giving up...not once.
I've had more tough times since the seventies, lots and lots of them. I call them adventures. The Good Lord grants some folks immense success, financial wealth, enduring love. ageless beauty...me, I've been blessed with lots of adventures. I'm grateful for every one of them. Through it all, I've never lost the hope and dreams...and I've never lost faith. I suppose without those bumps in the road, there'd be no adventures...and no stories to tell. Am I really going to let one lousy week get me down? No...because I go back...
My eyes focused on the girl sitting beside me on the hood of my car out in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. She was all I had in this whole world at this exact moment...and I couldn't bear the thought of losing anything more than I'd already lost. My hand drew her face close to mine until our lips touched and I let Sticky Nikki D take my loneliness away, if only for the night. Rising up through the air like the smell of colitas, the wail of the guitars of the Eagles played on the 8-track and the words rang in my ears,
'We are all just prisoners here, of our own device...'