Something Old, Nothing New

Even though I try/I can't let go

I'M SOMEWHAT FOR GETFUL, I admit--a fact which was really brought home to me late last Tuesday night when I went to print out a composition due the next day. My ink cartridge had run out a few months ago and I had never replaced it. No ink, no printing.

But no sweat, I thought--I room with two other people who have Macintosh computers. I could go to one of them and ask to use their printer, right?


The first roommate I turned to was game--but her computer was not. It kept saying something about "error 1 from application unknown." My second roommate's computer kept showing a ball of dynamite and complaining "coprocessor not installed." Finally, in desperation, I converted my file to a Microsoft Word format and printed it out on my second roommate's computer. The day was saved.

Maybe I was having an unlucky week. Maybe their computers were grumpy. Or maybe, just maybe, it was my choice of word processing program--MacWrite 4.5. which I got six years ago from a class at a summer program and have used ever since. Which is slow, complicated and outdated. Which my roommates' spiffy, modern System 7 and System 6-plus models couldn't read in the slightest.


My third roommate slept through all of this. The week before, however, she had stayed up while I dubbed her compact discs onto tapes. "I don't know why you don't get a CD player," she said.

I mumbled something about cost and took the tape to my old, battered jambox--the old battered jambox sitting very close on my dresser to my favorite pair of jeans, which I've had since I was 14 and which have holes in the knees that must be constantly repaired. My baby blanket was lying on the floor next to the dresser

I have trouble letting go of certain things.

I'm not quite sure why this is so. It's not as though I'm an anti-progress person. I like technology. I like advancement. I'm the one who argues for the "sterile, impersonal" infant delivery system in the U.S. because it saves lives. I support genetic engineering.

And I'm the one in my family constantly called upon to battle with balky computers and weird electronics. I hook up the VCRs and manipulate the laser disc player, and I have yet to come home without Mom asking me to take a look at some mechanical thing in the house.

But nevertheless, I refuse to abandon my jeans. Or my jambox. Or my MacWrite. Or my baby blanket (it's Pinksa to you.)

Perhaps I don't want to let go of what they represent. My jambox was what I listened to the morning I entered high school and the nights while I did homework--and there's no way I could get a CD to equal the terrific mix tape my friend Aasma gave me for Christmas of 1990. I've written everything from book reports to tutorial papers on my MacWrite.

My jeans have gone through competitive gymnastics, a year of inactivity and weight gain and the beginning of workouts with me. I slept with my blanket when I was a baby (although I only do so occasionally now).

Also, by now I know all my hold-out objects inside out--how to coax my old lamp to light, how to retrieve the rewind button when it falls into my tape player. I can't find jeans that fit me as well as my old ones do any-more. They've adjusted to me and I to them, to the point where we fit each other perfectly.

I'm funny about change--I usually resist it as long as possible. But when I actually go ahead and alter something, I adjust almost instantly. If I can reformat my expectations for my environment (i.e. feel at home at Harvard) I could certainly reformat my documents with an advanced word processor and use it competently.

Part of me has changed and grown up. But there's another part that needs ties to the past. And I think that as long as it's an occasional night with Pinksa and not a crying fit when things go wrong that comes from this, it's okay.

My second roommate, however, says that I'm just cheap. She's probably right.

Who knows--maybe this weekend I'll convert all my first-year papers to Microsoft Word. Or throw out my long suffering jeans. Or buy a new lamp that doesn't lean. Or give away the old pencil case I never use.

But most likely I'll end up working on my latest story in MacWrite, and sew on my jeans. While I'm watching "Star Trek" (The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine). Hey, maybe I'll even see it on the new TV I'm thinking of buying with my summer earnings--preferably a small, zippy color model that hooks up to my VCR.

After all, who am I to stand in the way of the future?