Friday, May 14, 2010

Material Girl: a Four Hour Journey

4:33 pm, on a train to Osaka by way of Kyoto. I have been without a home computer for nearly six days. It hasn't been as life-changing as I thought it would be. I do spend less time ruining my eyesight for the numerous tv shows that I follow. I've cooked for myself three times this week, which is already twice more than usual. Having no money to eat out also encouraged my volition to use the food in my fridge.

By the grace of Kim-Chi, I made an appointment at the Apple Store's Genius Bar in Shinsaibashi, Osaka. I was nervous, and not only because I would be traveling to Osaka alone, maneuvering through unfamiliar railways. I hadn't been able to specify that I needed the Apple Store to speak some English.

After a nerve-wracking trek to the Apple store I got a professional's confirmaton that God was watching out for me. Not only did I make ALL of my trains and arrive right on time, but the young guy dealing with me can speak the English. This was after telling me that he didn't speak English, but could understand a little. "First I'm going to check the hard drive. Do you have a backup? Okay, it will be five or ten minutes" qualifies as speaking English, in my opinion. I would know, you guys. I teach the language.

Right now it's 6:33 and I'm sitting at the Apple store. Typing this helps me look busy and not so pathetic. I was hearing an old school robot voice and thought that someone was playing with the word processor function that reads text aloud. It recurred at uneven intervals, so eventually I turned around. It was a man with one of those voice boxes. He barely looks to be fifty years old; it makes me wonder what might have happened (assuming his condition is not related to tobacco).

The lady next to me is learning how to use her iPod Touch properly. If I understand correctly, she was saying that it wasn't working properly. The store employee basically went through all the iPod functions and told her why nothing was wrong with them. It reminded me of my mother, who also refuses to read manuals. She's never had to go to a store to lean that she wasn't using a device properly, so that's one up on the lady customer. My mother is blessed with quasi-patient family members who read manuals and answer her questions.

Ingen, my personal Genius Bar staff member, just told me that there is no damage to the hard drive and the expensive buy-a-new-computer mechanisms seem to be fine. The problem likely deals with the logic board. I nodded like I knew exactly what that meant, but the only part I cared about was how a logic board by itself would otherwise cost upwards of $700. For a flat repair fee of about 450 American greenbacks I can get my computer fixed within one week. If it turned out that dear Ingen-san was wrong and the repairs would be more expensive, I can simply cancel the repairs.

Then he turned my computer over to take the battery out again and something flew out of it, skittering over the counter. "Eh?" said Ingen-san. He peered into the laptop's underside. "What was that?"

"Er, rice," I replied in Japanese, pinchng the offending grains between my fingers. There was no waste basket nearby, so I dropped them in my purse. Ingen laughed at me.

7:56 pm and I'm on the train back to Kyoto.I entrusted my computer to dear Ingen, and will return sometime next weekend to retrieve it. Despite the lure of being in the heart of Osaka's shopping district and in the proximity of a Krispy Kreme I opted to head home. I am exhausted, friends. Given my workload this week (and how I had a jam-packed weekend), not having a computer to keep me up late was a blessing. The blessing masqueraded as a terrible, expensive disaster, but in retrospect I'm not sure I would have survived the week otherwise. Going to bed by 10:30 every night save one has left me enough energy to teaching five classes per day and play with students during all of my breaks.

The title of this post should tell you that I had originally prepared to tap out a diatribe/expose on how this experience has taught me that I need to simplify my possessions. You know, something about how I was going to get rid of half my stuff and take better care of what I keep. As I close this post I'm aware that maybe it's more about the lengths to which I'm willing to go for my own comfort (Internet in my own home) and the stress I'm willing to endure for one of those possessions whose hold on my life I'm supposed to resent.

8:34 Now I'm going home from Kameoka station. I'm going to cook the steak I have thawing in the fridge, which I purchased on a whim back when I had money.


  1. I love cooking steaks I purchased on a whim. That's all I have to say...about anything.

  2. Yay! That sounds like good, if expensive, news. I'm glad Ingen is taking care of your mac.