Monthly Archives: February 2012

An Apple a Day

My computer crashed last Thursday night.

I am a longtime user of Apple products, beginning back in the early nineties.  I have used Macs since there were barely any applications for them.  I have been happy with their longevity, their customer service, and put up with their lack of interconnectivity over time.  That has improved dramatically.

I bought the first generation MacBook Air and used it more or less happily for three years until it began having major problems.  First the fan went, in early December, 2010.  No big deal.  I took it in to the Michigan Avenue store where I spied the new Airs.  I fondled them. They’d come out with an 11-inch model.  Lighter, smaller, faster, but with a same size keyboard.  I coveted it.  I asked the young man at the Genius bar to give me a reason, any reason, why I might need a new computer.  I depended on this, I said.  I carried it around with me.  Weight was an issue.  I’d torn a rotator cuff.  I was willing and able to buy.  Please, I said, tell me what the problems are with this old clunker.  Nothing, he said, and fixed it, lickety-split.

I made certain that I had Apple Care Protection, since this computer had my book on it, as well as all related files.  I used other computers for photos and music.  The ACP turned out to be a good idea because a soft clicking noise occurred in early September of 2011.  I rushed my Air in to the Lincoln Park store.  As it happened, the hard drive was in imminent danger of crashing, we’d caught it just in time, and they replaced the hard drive at no cost to me.  I asked, should I just replace the computer?  I heard they’d been re-engineered, improved.  NO, NO, NO, they told me.

Five months later, my computer with the brand new hard drive wouldn’t reboot.  I called, but apparently no longer had ACP and I was no longer eligible.  The call cost me ~ $50.00.  They walked me through the steps in multiple attempts to reboot.  No luck.  Take it to an Apple store, I was told.  They made an appointment for me.

The next morning, I drove to the Lincoln Park Apple store.  They took my computer into their diagnostic section.  The hard drive was dead.  It was not covered despite being five months old.  They recommended I take it to a data recovery place—they had a few they could suggest.  I had to buy a new computer.  I bought the new, re-engineered 11-inch MacBook Air I’d coveted fifteen months earlier.

I had lost all the files related to my new book.  I lost the first 90 pages I’d written.

Ordinarily, I back up my data on an external hard drive.  I regularly email files to myself as a precaution if I can’t get to the EHD.  But I hadn’t done it in a while, because I’d forgotten, been extremely busy, etc.  Because when you start a new book the files are everywhere and disorganized and you don’t know what will turn out to be important.  And because my new hard drive was only five months old.  Who would have thought that a five month old hard drive would fail?

Apple sent me an email asking if I was happy with the service I’d received at the Lincoln Park Store.  I filled it out in detail.

Never ask a question unless you want to hear the answer.  This is a general rule to follow in life.

A supervisor called me at home.  I told her that if the company knows that it has an inferior product, an outmoded product, and the customer asks specifically if she should buy a replacement because she depends on it, they should tell her the truth.  I spent $600 I did not need to spend on data recovery and a phone call plus hours of aggravation, worry, travel, etc.  I told the supervisor that when they replaced my hard drive in September, they should have said to me (after I told them I was a writer and depended on this baby), the same thing can happen to THIS hard drive that happened to your last one, and it can happen in three days, three months, or three years!  I should back up daily.   And they should have told me it wasn’t covered.

She said she was sorry.

The shine is off the Apple.

Radio Nights

I have begun the process of promoting my book.   This process does not come naturally to me.

In the parlance of the Meyers Briggs, I am what is known as an INTJ.  Introverted, intuitive, thinker, judger.  Not a natural for a book tour, I am more comfortable at home, alone and writing, than in a roomful of strangers shaking hands and selling myself.

I gave my first radio interview on Valentine’s Day.  Milt Rosenberg invited me onto his show on WGN, 720 AM.  The show airs from 11PM until midnight.  It did not help that I’m a morning person.  I should have napped before going on the air, I should have read my book, I should have read some Freud, or Jung, or even listened to old episodes of Dr. Ruth.  Instead I played Bedazzled and had no idea what I was getting into.  I had watched and listened to some of his interviews.  But even if I’d been prepared, I would not have been prepared.

My book is not Valentine material.  No Cupid’s arrows shoot forth from my prose.  On the contrary, reading my book may inspire a life of solitude, or perhaps it more accurately reflects a life of solitude.  It might promote chastity, or increase enrollment at convents and seminaries.  At best, the book presents the underbelly of dating in middle age.

Milt was a charming host, a practiced interviewer, and is a professional psychologist by training.  Unlike the marketing people for the publisher, he saw straight through the humorist in me to the serious writer beneath, and that was the person that interested him.  He also tried to fix me up.  On the air.  I’m afraid I came off as inarticulate (which I am not usually, but can be under pressure), slow (ditto), boring (yup), and not the sharp-tongued, scary person who wrote the insightful book he really seemed to like.  I wish I could have a do-over.

The best part about his interview, from my standpoint, was that he—unlike the marketing materials and many of the reviews—got the point that loss and a near-death experience are life-changers that make people (like me) act out, prevent them from seeing their obvious patterns of behavior, cause them to grasp for help from the wrong things and the wrong people.  He got it straight off.  I liked that about him.  I’m not certain that radio is the proper medium to get that point across, or that the podcast gave any indication of his insight, but he is excellent at what he does.  Our time together was not a laugh-fest.

I do know this:  I was a pathetic interviewee.  And I was totally unprepared to answer the call-in questions.

But I did get a couple of nice emails from men who checked out my website, bought the book, read it, and sent me pictures of themselves.  Despite my bumbling inarticulateness, Milt had managed to make me sound datable, albeit death-obsessed.  As he quoted both Freud and Jung to me and spoke French on the phone, I found myself wishing that Milt himself were thirty years younger.

The Guardian, no Angel

Today, The Guardian published their excerpt from my book.  And while I am grateful that they chose my book to highlight, I am also taken aback by the way in which it has been excerpted.  The excerpt gives the reader the impression that my book is about Internet Dating, which it is not.  My agent had asked The Guardian for some editorial control and it was denied.

My story is about a series of events that occurred during a six-year period of time beginning in 2002.  Shortly after separating from my husband, I had a brain aneurysm.  During the years that followed, I dated somewhat desperately, at first, as I slowly came to terms with my mortality and then gradually learned how to be alone.

I certainly had some bad dating experiences, as do many people who utilize the Internet.  And I was clearly naïve about men when my marriage ended – I address that in the book.  But many of these dating stories are in the book purely for comedic purposes.  I chronicle a few relationships because I learned something important from them.  I also met a number of men who aren’t in the book.  I met nice people.  I continue to meet nice people every day.  Mundane stories don’t make it into a book for a very good reason.

The point is that the excerpt does not accurately represent the book.  In a similar vein, I had to fight to prevent the jacket copy from making the book sound like a bodice-ripping romance with a happy ending.  But marketing is a world of its own.  An author has very little control over any aspect of it.  The book I wrote is about a near-death experience and how that changed my life.  There are funny parts, and there are sad parts, and there are scary parts.  There isn’t anything about the near-death part in the excerpt.

I read some of the comments, and was appalled.  I had to stop.  A man commented that rape doesn’t only happen to women.  This is a point I made in the book, though it was edited out of the excerpt.  I could go on and on, but I would make myself crazy.

I understand that Internet Dating, or dating of any kind is a popular topic, which is why newspapers want to cover it.  And it is a funny topic, because we all know people who are happily married through matches made on E-Harmony or Match.com  or others and at the same time we all know or have dating horror stories.

I included my own stories in the book because during those six years, I spent a good deal of my time and energy on trying to find a man rather than on trying to put myself back together.  The excerpt, rather importantly, missed that too.