Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Last Night, I Freaked Out

Posted five weeks after originally written. 

I had a relatively productive day. Admittedly, there were a few decent-sized disappointments, but I got things done. When going through a hard time, you want to grab on to the good stuff--like the barista who gave me a free coffee--and try to keep the negative stuff--like a bad job interview--in stride. Last night, I felt like doing something else but I had committed to a raid group with fifteen other people. I could've backed out. They might have done better without me.

When the time came, I showed up. It was just then that my years-old computer headset gave up the ghost. It's hard to raid if you can't hear, so I dropped out of the group. The team offered suggestions, but it was frustrating to communicate.

"No, I can't plug in my phone headphones because either the audio port is broken or when I built the computer, I wired it wrong. I probably wired it wrong. I've known about this and solved the problem a long time ago by using a USB headset and only USB audio devices will work now. No, I couldn't have just taken back the parts when I first built it because I frankenstein-ed it together from computer parts belonging to an ex-boyfriend whom I think is engaged now but I can't bring myself to find out for sure and I'm a failure and I shouldn't raid tonight." 

They went on without me. My heart sank. It's just a dumb headset, but solving the problem was so much harder than it would be for any normal, functioning, human. What was going to be my excuse next week?

"I still don't have a headset because Best Buy is a pain to get to because I don't have a car. I can't get it online because the mail carrier keeps losing my stuff and I had a late fee on a bill last week because I never got my mail and just today I filed a claim on a package that was lost that had an outfit in it that I was going to wear on a job interview if I were to get one. I used to have packages sent to me at work like everyone else in New York, but..." 

After dropping from the group, I remembered I had a USB-audio jack converter. I dug it out and used it to plug a portable speaker into my computer. It kind of worked! A few error messages popped up, but I could hear reasonably well, which meant I could play! My friends brought me back into the group and we had a good time. I was happy.

After a few hours, it became clear to me we would not defeat the raid encounter and that it might have been my fault. I had the performance meter up on my screen and I knew I was at the bottom of the list. In between attempts, I searched for details of the fight online and tried to figure out if the group would be better off without me. I couldn't definitively prove it with math, but I did believe I was holding them back. I felt terrible.

We beat the boss!  

We did it! At the very end of the night, we all pulled it together. I stood up and danced. I laughed. Everyone cheered. I was happy.

My performance had been OK, but next week I was going to be better. I have this pretty cool gaming mouse with a ton of buttons. That was a good place to start: optimizing my devices. Right after the group disbanded for the night, I went to the mouse manufacturer's website and downloaded a small program which would enable me to configure the mouse to my specifications. I rebooted so I could start using it right away. My computer didn't turn back on. It no longer worked.

Then, I lost my fucking mind.

Without a computer, how would I apply for jobs? I can't get a job without a computer. I can't type. I can't create cover letters. I can't tweak resumes. All I had done was download a tiny program and it destroyed my only way of changing my life. How, at my age, had I allowed myself to get to this? I was a failure and all my decisions had been wrong and I am not good at anything and how had I been so cocky as to think I was marketable? My life was hanging by a thread so small a mouse could snap it.

I was sobbing, pulling my hair, and silently screaming when I started explaining to my raid team--in my head--why I wasn't going to be there next week.

Pull quotes 1
"I rebooted my computer after downloading a program because I wanted to perform better next week and now my computer is broken and I can't just get a new one because I don't know when my next paycheck is. I would never have turned off my computer had I known it wouldn't turn back on and I know what you are thinking but it has nothing to do with my headset..." 

Then I remembered. I unplugged the little speaker I had rigged up. My computer started working. I was happy.

Tomorrow is a new day.

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