November 3, 2007 in Uncategorized
November now; after a whole week of Halloween lessons, Halloween is finally over – and thank goodness. I (who shiver with excitement at the mere thought of wearing a costume) would never have thought I could be capable of typing the above sentence but, prior to my employment at an English academy, I’d never had to wear a costume 6 hours a day for 5 days before, nor had I ever seen multiple flocks of confused costumed kids “treated” almost exclusively by generic brand balls of hard candy. No; 5 days – plus an abysmally crowded Halloween party at Vladivostok – was actually more than enough for me.
I don’t mean to sound negative about the experience; in America or Japan, Halloween is my favorite holiday. The children in their witch hats, vampire capes, princess gowns and pumpkin outfits reduced me to puddles of delight more than once and I would be lying if I said that seeing the costumes my fellow teachers had dreamed up wasn’t fun for me. My own costume went over very well, but a Liv Original Creation is really only meant to last for one day of wear. Nothing would have pleased me more than to chart the deterioration of my piecemeal anime-inspired costume on this site for each of the 5 Days of Halloween but I was, I’m afraid, unable to do so due to the unfortunate – but not altogether unexpected – suicide of my lap top.
To explain; three years of my ferocious abuse were more than enough for the old Dell and last Thursday, it finally fought back, seeking to strike where it would hurt me most. After months spent waiting for the internet to be connected in my apartment and coughing up lung chunks in the smoky, expensive internet cafes I was once again sans home business center. No more PC – and in Japan to boot.
Someone who has never lived in Japan might find the last statement ridiculous – my friend, Sancho, actually laughed at me.
“You’re in Japan,” he said. “… the land of electronics. What do you mean it’s going to be hard for you to find a computer?” Exactly – I’m in Japan: the electronics will be, naturally, in Japanese. This doesn’t pose much of a problem for electronics like digicams and CD players but with a computer, the operating system, keyboard, information manual will all be in Japanese. Not that I have anything against Japanese, of course, but I am only taking the 4-kyuu, folks. And even with my 4-kyuu level skills I was able to understand the various sales staff at the various electronics stores I went to – very very sorry, but no English-language PCs… why didn’t I buy a Mac? A Mac? I thought. Hold up, now – surely this no-English OS issue wasn’t serious enough to warrant spending that kind of money just yet …
I dashed over to that old smoky internet cafe to buy a new comp online – perhaps another Dell. I found a lovely Dual Core model with 2G of Ram for $749 that I was all set to buy until I realized that, unfortunately, Dell doesn’t ship to Japan. Ditto for Best Buy, New Egg, HP, Gateway, and Circuit City. Toshiba Japan, naturally, ships to Japan but their laptop site is in Japanese and I grew impatient reading the katakana and cutting and pasting lines of text into babelfish. Plus, again, the Japanese OS issue. Of course, I could have had an English language/keyboard comp shipped to my folks in America and had them ship it to me – something I definitely would have done if I didn’t have pending freelance steno work deadlines the week my computer died. The longer I waited to get a laptop the more work and money I would lose. Another option was to buy a Japanese PC here and pay someone to convert the OS to English – Sean knows a guy in Kyoto – but this also takes extra time and quite a bit of extra money. And then I’d still have the Japanese keyboard to contend with.
… so I bought the Mac. I am referring to it as my Mac Baby because for me, parting with large sums of money feels something the way I’d expect a natural childbirth to feel. I justify this purchase by reminding myself that PC laptops in Japan aren’t as reasonable as they are becoming in the US – the laptops I saw at the stores in town were in the same price range as the Mac Baby. Add to this the cost of getting the OS converted and the Japanese keyboard. A Mac Baby can be converted to any language within seconds and at the Apple store in Sakiio, a keyboard change operation can be performed in an hour. Eugenics meets electronics – I never dreamed I’d be able to customize my very own Mac Baby. And yet – here she is. White. Gleaming. New. With the apostrophe, quotation marks and commas right where they should be. Cootchy cootchy coo.
Another bonus: she was so light I could carry her home myself, cradled her in her little white box. As I stepped into my shoebox apartment, I had the disquieting thought that perhaps my disheveled home was not really a good place for a little Mac Baby to grow up. I lay her down gently, clearing away the debris from my desk and bed, vacuuming up the dust and hair and organizing the affects on my windowsill, lest they fall down and hurt the Baby. Though I barely waited for my Dell to stiffen before I replaced her, I had actually been affected by her final act of desperation; this time, I told myself, I will do it right. This laptop will not go before its time. I moved her tenderly, nervously brushing away each speck of dust before it has time to fall upon the keys.
The keys. May I say a word about the keys? Though I took precautions to make my home comfortable for my Mac Baby, the initial bonding process was not as smooth as I might have hoped – I had barely begun the registration process when I discovered that I had typed:
My I, O and comma keys didn’t work. In shock, I did a quick check and realized that neither did the period, 9, or page down keys. I don’t really remember much of what happened next – my blinding rage probably blocked it out – but I have no doubt it was a Daffy Duck moment. Back to the Mac store I went, with the Mac Baby and the ever-helpful Carnitas in tow in case I needed any help talking to the sales staff. Another half hour and the Mac Baby was truly ready. In my opinion, an apology present – such as, I don’t know, a Sailor Mercury figurine – might have made the relief a little sweeter but I suppose, in the end, the only thing that matters is that we’re together. It’s been few days now and the Mac Baby and I are doing just fine – she works at speeds I’ve never dreamed of and because of this, my last interview was transcribed in nearly real time.
The interview was with Mike Myers. When my client first told me that I would be transcribing an interview with Mike – one of three celebrities who can actually reduce me to babbling – my reaction was, of course: “I’m not worthy.” And yet, when my client surprised me by mentioning my reaction to Mike at the end of the interview, Mike laughed and said that I am, indeed, very worthy
I’d say I can die now but my Mac Baby needs me.