Monday, January 19, 2009

The No-Matter-What Goal

by Malena Lott
Once upon a time, four days ago to be exact, I was having a very pre-Cinderella moment, cleaning the cluttered playroom/office upstairs. The reason for my cleaningfest was because a camera crew would be here the next day to shoot a photo for a magazine article on "how color enhances a room." My playroom/office is apple green and the style is fun and contemporary with some vintage mod chairs thrown in for good measure. I got the chair pictured herein at a used office store. Three of them for $6 each. They were real office chairs from the 1960s. The Ugly Dolls are supplied by my daughter. I assured her they prefer to be in my cool chairs than at the bottom of her stuffed animal pile in her room.

I'll be honest. I'm feeling pretty cocky about the clean-up in that moment. I'm down to one pile of papers (mostly trash) and my toddler, TinyHulk as I like to call him, is spinning in my office chair waiting for me to finish so I can tuck him in - again. Then it happens. A crash. The chair stops spinning. My eyes dart to the ground where my laptop is in a triangle on the carpeted floor.

"My computer!" His spinning chair had clipped the computer, sending it to the floor. I pick it up, sit in the chair and stair incredulously at the screen. Cracked. The bottom right corner is black with a crack line from the top left corner like a strike on a bowling game. Red, green and yellow lines cover the screen, making it mighty tough to read the screen.

"What's wrong with your computer?" TinyHulk asks.

"It's broken. You broke it," I whimper, tears starting to fall down my face. I feel stupid for crying, but the laptop is like my fourth child. It goes everywhere with me and it's the reason I get so much writing done throughout the day and still manage to keep an eye on my busy toddler.

"Mom, let's send it to Santa."

"Santa? Why?"

"Because he'll know how to fix it."

"No, I don't think it can be fixed."

The little guy's face is white with shame. "Oh. I'm going to bed now." He knows what he's done because he broke our new plasma TV last year by throwing a toy at it. This time it was most definitely an accident, but still. He races out of the room. A tiny miracle that he would put himself to bed, but he doesn't. I hear big steps coming up the stairs. My husband.

"Did he really break your computer?" The tears streaming down my face answer him.

Thing is, a few moments later I was over it. It's not cancer, I think. It's better than the hard drive crashing, which happened to me last fall. And I'd rather my laptop crack it's skull than my toddler.

Isn't that what happens in life? Things are going along really well. I was feeling that On Top of The World feeling. I knew I'd be more imaginative and focused in a de-cluttered room. And I am. I just had to adjust and bring up the big Mac from downstairs to do so.

The biggest lesson I learned (besides the obvious: don't leave my laptop near a moving object) is that we all have our No Matter What goals. We'll do anything - absolutely anything - to make them happen. Since my laptop cracked, I've written 6,000 words on my WIP. I'm writing this blog post on it right now. I'm not letting any setback, big or small, get in the way of my writing. And you shouldn't either.

P.S. Happy Obama Day!


  1. HUGS, Malena!

    So sorry about your laptop, but thank goodness TinyHulk wasn't hurt! I guess there really is always an "up" side to everything. Sometimes it just takes me awhile to see it. :-P

    I love your definition of a "No-Matter-What" goal. I have a few of those, and most of the time I know what I have to do to get there. It's the "getting there" part...


  2. I'm sorry your laptop got killed, and I'm glad you found out IT was not the reason you could be productive. No, that reason lies in YOU. You're not letting things stop you.

    It's a lesson I absorb again with every bit of research I do on SEALs. They will tell you over and over they are not supermen, they don't do things beyond the capability of normal people.

    What they do is mostly mental, they say. But it isn't mind over matter. Mostly, it's a matter of not letting their own minds persuade them to give up when they encounter obstacles or hardship.

    This lesson is particularly needed by writers. It can seem so self-evident that a lack of time, of quiet space, of inspiration...[insert favorite "reason" here______] is what keeps us from writing.

    A thought-provoking subject,Malena.

  3. Malena-
    I think I would die without my laptop! I feel your pain. But I am glad you have pushed onward and are still writing!

    And Happy Obama Day to you, too! Isn't it such a great momentous time--having MLK's bday today and the inauguration tomorrow...


    I LOVE Ugly Dolls. One of my best friend's parents owned a toy store and they carried them for a bit... she and I have been obsessed with them ever since, so I was glad to see one in your room :)

  4. Oh, God, Malena - I can soooo relate. Last week, one year and 37 days (and those 37 days make all the difference!) since HP replaced the lemon HP I'd bought after my Toshiba crashed getting an update from the MicroSoft website (which MicroSoft won't pay for - don't get me started...) Where was I? Oh, yeah. THREE Laptops later (since Aug 2007, mind you) the replacement HP goes kerplunk b/c the motherboard died. On deadline, luckily backed up only two days prior and all mss are faithfully saved in cyberspace, but no laptop.

    I'll save you the annoyance I've had over the past 3 days with not one, but two computers, now a new router, reloading iTunes, restoring backups... aggghhhh!

    So, yes, it's not cancer. It's not TinyHulk's skull, but, oh! You can definitely pitch a (small) fit b/c it just takes so much of your time to get back to working order!

  5. I live in fear of my laptop dying on me. Thus, I have everything backed up on two thumbdrives, and a friend of mine has a disk with most of my books on it, so even if I lose everything, she's got them. Losing a manuscript completely is one of my worst nightmares as a writer. A kid with a bonk on the noggin is one of those motherly sort of fears that I have, too!'
    Glad things turned out okay for all.

  6. Oh my!! My worst nightmare is hitting me all over again! I seriously live in fear of something happening to my laptop. It is over 2 years old and has been flawless - which I hesitate to write or say as I am sure it will jinx me! Ga!! Time to backup!! Good idea, Cheryl, to have it all on another computer as well. I keep mine on a backup stick, but still have this terror of that not working either. OK, another thing to add to today's to-do list.

    Glad you got it fixed up, Malena. And of course it must be placed into the perspective of human health and welfare. But we feel your pain. Thanks again for a great post. Sorry I did not get to it yesterday - no computer crashes but just a hectic day!

  7. Always scary, Malena and why I have two laptops and an external hard drive for backups along with my flash drives.

    But yes, we need to remember we don't need it to write, even if it does make it easier.