A Brief Intermission

Don’t fret, the next installment of the Shoemaker’s Daughter will be posted on Thursday. I’ve managed to veer so far from the original story that I need a little extra time to figure out how to get the story to go where I want it to. In the mean time, I thought it would be worthwhile to take a moment and… you know… chat?

God things are actually kind of good. Before we get to that, a short aside: I’m kind of a nerd. That should be shocking to no one, especially consistent readers of this blog as it is a fact I come by honestly. My particular flavor of nerdishness tends to exist upon the hallowed grounds of geekery. (Nerd: someone with broad passions and slightly obsessive tendencies i.e. Comic book nerds, music nerds, and more recently, self-described “sports nerds”. Geek: Someone who exhibits technological proficiency within a subset of interests. i.e. Coffee geeks, music geeks, computer geeks.)

All of that to say that I am fond of computers. I enjoy using them, fixing them, learning about them, making them better. I built my current computer almost two years ago, and I still love the thing. It plays Skyrim like nobody’s business. Video that used to take nine hours to render is now completed in less than one. It is the closest thing to computational perfection that I’ve ever come to, and this fact is made better by the fact that it was assembled piece by piece by my own hands. But. All of this perfection leaves an empty spot in my nerdy soul. I have nothing to fix. Nothing to optimize.

I have binary wanderlust. I long to explore new frontiers of digital knowledge. At the same time, I am so enamored with my creation, I would certainly never do anything to put it at risk for fear of ruining the homeostasis I’ve found. So what’s the solution? To a nerd such as myself, the answer was obvious… I need another computer. Maybe a laptop, that way I could hang out with Leah on the couch while we surf the web in tandem. It wouldn’t even have to be a good one, I could install Ubuntu and get my geek-fix by learning how to use the linux terminal. The problem here, is that we are in the midst of moving and every available penny we have is tied up in improving our home to be.

I kicked the nerd-part of my brain into overdrive. I crunched numbers, I scanned craigslist. Surely, somehow, there had to be a way to make this happen. After a couple weeks of thinking about it off-handedly, I came to the sad conclusion that there just wasn’t a way to make it work right now. The sting was intensified by the fact that at the time we had three dead laptops collecting dust in our closet. All three of them died of random motherboard issues, which are the bane of my nerdy existence. Software problems I can solve, no sweat. When hardware dies, there’s nothing to do but buy replacement parts, and even then it’s a crapshoot as to whether or not the computer will work.

One day I was at work and the Nerd calling was particularly strong. Ubuntu had just released version 11.04 and I really wanted to play with it. I had a pen in my hand, and with an inner shrug, I scrawled:

Writing out random little prayers is just something I’ve taken to doing from time to time. This particular occasion, I’m pretty sure it was followed by me rolling my eyes and feeling a little sheepish. Yes, I knew God could randomly make one of our laptops work, but… Why? I didn’t need it, I know that this was more of a luxury than anything else. But still, the nerd heart wants what the nerd heart wants.

That night I got home and thought about plugging in the laptops just to see. But I didn’t. They were buried in the closet, it was too big a pain. That’s what I told myself, anyway. There’s no reason to get your hopes up, just friggin’ deal with it.

So I did. For a couple of weeks I mostly brushed the whole incident aside. Finally the Nerd within grew so insistent that I talked to Leah about it, and we decided if we could maybe sell a few things on Craigslist or get some income we weren’t counting on, maybe we could make a go of it. It just so happened that there was a guy on Craigslist offering to buy dead laptops, of which I now owned three. I made contact with him, and he offered me $30 for all three. As in total. He knew as well as I did that bad motherboards were the kiss of death when it comes to computers… so, in a hail mary pass, I decided I’d plug them in to see if maybe I could figure out a different diagnosis that might net me a little more cash.

I plugged in the old Toshiba, and as expected, nothing. The gateway was the same. Finally, I came to Leah’s old HP. She had the computer for only a year and a half when it suddenly and inexplicably died. We found the mobo’s had a pretty common problem with that, and so we wrote it off… Eventually. For a solid year afterwards, before we bought her a replacement we would randomly plug the thing in just to see if it had spontaneously regenerated. It hadn’t.

This time though, I plugged it in expecting to be met with complete silence. I held down the power key, and to my utter astonishment, the boot posted. It immediately started screeching that it didn’t have an operating system, but the thing was on! Tentatively, I installed windows 7. It took. It’s working like a charm.

So, okay, this story turned out way longer than I really thought it would. But here is the bottom line; the take away that made my neck-hair stand on end… God isn’t speaking to me like he used to. But maybe… Just maybe I’m beginning to re-learn how to catch glimpses of him in other ways. Maybe, finally, for the first time in eons, I’ve opened my eyes wide enough to begin seeing the movement and rhythm of his Grace.

Maybe the great silence is truly coming to an end… Maybe the whole thing was a lesson in learning how to listen more intently? I don’t know. But when that screen came to life, I think I felt a little piece of my soul do the same.

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