My computer crashed two weeks ago. The blue screen of death was nearly fatal. it usually takes a few hours to reinstall a new operating system. it took us just a little over two weeks. Why? My computer is not a standard computer. The first problem that arises is that I need programs like Dragon to be able to use my computer. Keyboard and mouse is a hazard that had me in tears more than once. Upgrading to Windows 7 turned out to be the easy part. Reinstalling and reconfiguring all my customized settings is still a work in progress. Dragon was by far the biggest headache. My version doesn’t work with Windows 7 and so we had to order an upgrade. The upgrade took forever to arrive and was delivered during the one hour I left the house all week and so had to be picked up at the local depot. Once here, it then needed to patch which took all night to download as everybody is online on a Saturday night and my net connection drops to snail’s pace. Chris got up at the crack of dawn to install it before setting off for the morning shift at work.
I’m almost done. My joystick still requires recalibrating, the new version of Dragon has to be trained all over again, World of Warcraft addons still require some work and my GlovePie scripts were corrupted along with my gaming files and so require rewriting. The heartbreaking losses: my Steam game save files. I was two missions away from completing the call of duty modern warfare 2 solo campaign, I had unlocked almost all the co-op missions, psychonauts were coming along slow but well, Half-Life 2 was almost done and Batman had been beaten but not completed. And yes, I did have back-ups, but my back-ups kept on an external hard-drive were corrupted too. Whilst my computer was slowly being recucitated, I played Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2, tried Bayonetta, bought Assassin’s Creed and played Mass Effect 2 again. The Mako had me in tears and I rage quit more than once, something I hadn’t done since my first month of trying to play WoW. My personal assistant tried and failed, Chris tried and failed and so I was stuck, usually around 4-5 hours at a time on each vehicle enabled mission. If it wasn’t for a friend who kept me calm, focused and motivated by giving advice and suggestions over the phone whilst I played, I never would have finished the game. It was whilst struggling through yet another Mako mission that I realized I had one of two options. I could simply struggle through, save well and hope to hell I never ever ever have to do anything like this ever again, or I could try and learn the skill rather than relying on luck and throwing hours at it to eventually succeed once by accident. I opted for the second. And so when I realised that my game files were lost, it was a setback, but not a tragedy.
I can play FPS now. Not well and not quickly, but having taken the time and accepted all the help I could get, I learned a skill, I didn’t just persevere through a game. I can do it again. As for psychonauts and co-op missions, I learned and even more important lesson. I have friends who will help. Not just as a one off, but as much and as often as I need help. All I have to do is ask. Asking isn’t something that comes easily or naturally to me. If I want to take a shower, I have to ask someone to open the shower door for me. If I want to brush my teeth, I have to ask someone to put toothpaste on my toothbrush. I have to ask someone to open bottles, open taps, open doors, pour my coffee, slice my food, tie my laces, turn on a light, adjust the sound on the TV. I spend all day asking for things and every request sometimes feels like it comes at a cost paid in dignity and independence. But it doesn’t, not really. When I was a kid, I used to help my uncle who was a quadriplegic arrange things occassionally. He’d ask me to tidy his desk just the way he liked it or to move his remote so that he could press the buttons. I didn’t mind. In fact, I felt honored that he liked and trusted me enough to allow me to touch his things. I was rather clumsy and most people prefered that I looked and didn’t touch. I’ve been sick the last two weeks and without my computer, even more dependent on other people than usual. But for the first time in my life, I haven’t felt as if every request came at a cost. I’m finally learning to ask for what I need and be more open and honest about why I need it. And sometimes, the reason is luxury rather than necessity. I still have to ask for help with all the practical stuff, but somehow, it suddenly feels okay to also ask for help with the fun stuff. Particularly when I’m sick and miserable and all I really want to do is loose myself in a good story.