Sunday, December 11, 2011

Making Myself Uneasy


Some things should be easier.

I've been trying to set up and HP Laserjet printer. It's not the sort of thing that should take any time at all and yet, this is my second time trying to install the thing and still no luck. It's sitting on the shelf next to me and, were I the type to anthropomorphize things, I might say that it was smugly smiling at me. Laser printers are so superior.

It's gotten me to thinking about things that should be easier and aren't because we have needlessly complicated them. Congress and the President are experts at this. Insurance companies too. And computer manufacturers have long been the experts at this sort of thing. So too am I.

I haven't been running lately. It has been about a week and a half, maybe longer, since my last run. I find all sorts of ways to complicate the process. I can only run in the morning, but I don't get up out of bed. I'm too busy and can't go out during the afternoon. I can't go after dinner because dinner is sitting in my gut and kills me when I try to run. And so on. In other words, there are thousands of reasons for me to not run and I have invented every single one of them.

I'm as bad as Hewlett-Packard. Oh no.

I got off the phone an hour or so ago with my mother. She is in the process of packing everything she and my father own and moving it from the Thousand Islands region back here to Syracuse. When I spoke with her, she mentioned what a hard time she was having finding a new place to live, how long packing was taking, the worries as to whether or not my brother and father will arrange a new place to put their antique cars, and so on. The whole process is making her very nervous.

I listened to all of this as best I could while trying to silence the conversations I was thinking about inside my head. It seems so easy to tell her how to do this and to choose not to be nervous. I mean, duh. But then I look at that smug laser printer (no, I wouldn't consider giving it human attributes, not me) and I feel the tension of my failure to get it to work welling up in me.

Yet another case in my life of trying to do what I say not what I do.

My oldest daughter has spent a good portion of the day moping around the house wondering what to do with herself. She is lost unless she has a playmate. This has always been the case with her but to a much lesser degree. I want to say to her, snap out of it, woman! But instead I have been trying to encourage her to call her friends on the phone, to go for a walk with her dog, to write a story the way she always did. None of this has gotten her out of her funk and, once again, I'm going a little nuts wondering why she won't take the most basic steps to get herself going. It's like she's ten years old or something.

Oh, yeah. She is. Okay, but still, come on, kid. Do as I say, not as I do.

So it seems that there is a theme to my day.

When I'm done with this writing, I'm going to take another crack at that printer, but this time I'm going to do it from left field. I think that there is a really buggy early beta of Windows 8 out there that I might download and mess with. If that won't work, I'll grab a different Linux distribution and go at it with that. It's time to challenge myself, but that's not enough.

Before I do any more tinkering, I will take a sheet of paper and write the following on it before tacking it to the wall in front of my desk: "Settle down, Francis." It's one of my favorite lines from Stripes and it applies pretty damn well to me, to my mother, to my daughter.  If we just settle down, we'll see that the whole thing is within our reach, that we've done it all before, and that it's just a matter of moving forward.

I'm very likely to fail in my next attempt with the printer, but it's something that I can take a shot at. And maybe I might learn something truly useful and be more help to myself, to my mother, and to my daughter. That would be pretty cool.

Write on.