by Nicole Freire
I'm going to tell you right up front that I'm writing this under the influence of drugs. Heavy drugs. Migraine drugs. Drugs so powerful that they only give me 6 at time, to parcel out as needed.
So, holy cow Batman, big headache. Big migraine. Ouch. Please let me lie down so I can clutch my head and turn off the lights. But the drugs sometimes help enough that I can sit on the couch for a little bit and write this column because that Ed, he depends on me.
The photo accompanying this article is one I took during the Gap Fire, when I ran around the house taking pictures of furniture and silver and for some reason, our television and its assorted entertainment components.
If, god forbid, my house had burned down and I had to show those pictures to the nice people who have my renter's insurance policy, I can't imagine that they would find the television worth anything. They probably would want to know why we still have a VCR, to which I say, I have kids and kids come with lots of videos and if you think I'm going to spend one single dime replacing our VHS copy of "Flubber" with a DVD one, then you are crazy.
The "Aristocats" maybe because I enjoy cats and kittens who can sing and talk.
Whoo, migraine drugs.
My point is, all the electronic machines in my house are all falling apart simultaneously. We're just this side of being without anything that plugs into the wall and provides pretty pictures and music.
So, yes, we still have a VCR. And we still use it. It's the poor man's version of TIVO (or so I've heard, since we don't have TIVO, but I heard it rocks). In fact, we taped (hah, "taped" so quaint sounding) Saturday Night Live on Saturday because both adults in the house couldn't stay up late enough to watch it live. Well, because we live on the West Coast, and SNL is taped on the East Coast, it's not really live is it?
The DVD player is next. It's not only falling apart, it's being grumpy about it. It's very selective about what it will and will not play. It will play Emmylou Harris but not the Beatles. When we ask it nicely to play disc three of "The Wire" we have to hold our breath. It's a DVD magic 8 ball. Sometimes it says, "yes, I'll deign to play that" but often it refuses to read the DVD and then we have to turn it off and turn it back on to try and trick the machine into working.
And the television itself. Not only is it dying too, it likes to show off the fact that it's becoming obsolete by occasionally turning the screen into a sort of northern lights color extravaganza. Half the screen turns pink and gets fuzzy and then orange and meanwhile we're sitting on the couch, crossing our fingers. Our televisions have always been hand me downs from my parents. They get a new television, we get their old one. Which is why lately, every few months I say to my parents, "Hey, when are you guys going to get a new television? How about that HD thing?" in the hopes that we'll get their old one before our current model gives up the ghost.
I've already complained about our aging Mac, which now refuses to install Flash Macromedia or something equally infuriating. Now I just scream extremely unladylike curses at it, the kind that make my kids scold me for using bad language. I'm just trying to check my email for goodness sakes, I'm not building databases or Photoshopping last year's Christmas pictures. Why won't it work?
We also don't have a working printer in the house. Ok, we don't have a printer AT ALL in the house. This means that when the sixth grader needs to print out homework, we have to drive to Kinko's and use their printers. As the school year progresses, I can see this becoming more of a problem. Luckily, Kinko's is open late.
I'm writing this article on a laptop. Wait, wait, let me finish laughing. I just went and stood on the bathroom scale. I weigh 116 without the laptop and if I hold the laptop and stand on the scale again, it registers 126 and wants to know if I'm holding a brick. So, I'm using a 10 pound laptop that gets really hot, so underneath the laptop is a book called "Star Wars: Incredible Cross Sections". It wasn't chosen for its cool title so much as it was the only book wide enough to fit under the darn thing so that my thighs don't catch fire.
The big point here is not that everything here is breaking down, or that it's breaking down all at the same time. Rather, I'm not going to pretend anymore that we can get along without all these gizmos. I need to play the Beatles and Emmylou Harris, despite the pickiness of my DVD player. I need the television because there are some presidential debates coming up. Also, there are people who live with me who enjoy watching ultimate fighting and the sci-fi channel, not to mention the occasional episode of Law and Order.
We need working computers for school work, to compose emails, to be able to write and send articles through the magical tubes of the Internet to edhat.com. Other work, actual work work, "work" type work, needs to be done, and done on machines that, well, work. Or at least work most of the time, instead of sporadically and poorly.
I hear that my taxpayer dollars are being used to bail out some big important financial institutions. And you know what? If I now own a piece of AIG or Bear Stearns or whatever stalwart banking institution has decided to roll over and die, then I believe that entitles me to some working electronics. Because I'm pretty confident than on Wall Street there are desks and desks covered with working printers hooked up to working computers and boardrooms full of really nice televisions and DVD players that don't talk back.
So, if those bankers aren't too busy crying over their failing hedge funds, they could use that time to box up some of my newly acquired office equipment and FedEx it my way, because there are school reports coming up that need colorful pie charts and I need to watch the Tina Fey/Sarah Palin send up for the 19th time because the migraine meds are wearing off.
And lo, there was a clunky metaphor for the failing economy and the failing equipment that runs Chez Freire. And the masses cried out, "Oh, do they really need a new television there on Main Street?" And the bankers, they lifted their eyes to the heavens and cried, "But we are in debt! To our eyeballs! We cannot provide you with the latest bells and whistles!" And the masses, they cried again into the darkness, "At least leave us your iPhones before you enter the desert to wander in shame wearing the tattered robes of a $700 billion bailout!"
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Nicole Freire is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara.