The other day I called my mother and caught her in a frustrated mood. Simply put, technology was turning against her. She was convinced this was because she’s old (she’s not) and too forgetful (not true either, at least I don’t think so). She just could NOT get things to work, and had reached such a state of frustration while trying to program a new phone she’d bought that she was ready to have a total breakdown. So I went over, helped her do it, and reassured her that everyone has times like that. This is true: yesterday, it was my turn.

I came home from school and the fax machine was beeping. I figured it was out of paper, so I came up here to check: no, the film was empty. Fine. I had another roll right at the ready. So I take the old one out, pop off the gears, and start to put them on the new one. Easy, yes? Well, no. They would NOT go in. Every combination, every way I tried, it just wasn’t happening. If I really forced them, then stuck the cannister back in the machine, the gears wouldn’t turn, instead just making this click-click-click noise before beeping at me again. I kept at it, because there HAD to be a way to make it work, right? This new film was just like the old one, and it had been working just fine.

Cut to me about twenty minutes later. I am so mad I can’t see straight, cursing a blue streak (I think I scared my dogs) and I just don’t GET it. Now, I used to get frustrated entirely too easily: I got so upset on the line with Mindspring Tech Support once I started crying, and then the guy helping me got all panicked until he sounded like HE was about to burst into tears. Not a good scene. As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve learned that really losing it doesn’t help matters. That if I try to stay calm—and positive—usually I can figure things out. So after I’d tried every possible way to put the fax film back in and it STILL wasn’t working, I decided to take a break, go eat some lunch, and try again later.

I still couldn’t get it. Even more depressing, my husband, who is SO much better with all things spatial than I am, has pronounced it impossible and told me to just go buy an entire new cartridge today, which I can just stick in without dealing with the gears at all. Now, I can do that. Sure I can. But I’ve been on this whole kick lately that I don’t quit things just because they get hard, or even seem impossible (very necessary for a novelist, or at least one as insecure as I am). I don’t want to give up. However, my husband also pointed out to me that life is short: there are better ways to spend my time than working over a problem that can be solved in some other way. Maybe this, really, is what getting older is all about. Trying to fix the things you can, while at the same time accepting that there will always be a few you cannot. Novels, yes. Fax machines, no. Okay then.

(Update: after driving across town to OfficeMax, I have found the new ink film doesn’t work either. Apparently, something is wrong with the innards of the printer, a gear isn’t working like it should. I am trying to take deep breaths. Inhale pink, exhale blue, inhale pink, exhale blue….)

have a good day everyone!