The routine (reflections on storage)

In the morning, when I turn on my laptop, my screen is a barrier. Then, I begin the routine. First, I open my mail…and a tiny fissure appears in the liquid crystal. *SPAM*, shit-loads of it, oozes forth… stock investments, penis enlargers and viagra misspelled in an infinite amount of ways. DELETE, DELETE, DELETE….I am that little boy with his finger in the dike trying to hold back the flood.

There are also messages of relevance; those are the worst. Here is where the guilt sets in. “Oh yes, I forgot to answer that…..” “what an interesting point, why didn’t I follow-up?…” “he always posts such excellent stuff, it’s a pity I didn’t have time to read it…” “Later, yes later”, that’s what I tell myself with the best of intentions. I download attachments to my folder thinking I’ll have time to read that paper soon. Embarrassingly, there are things in that folder dating from the mid-nineties. It’s the legacy of never doing clean installs. I’ve discovered you can digitally import guilt. And I wonder, does a “to-do” have an expiration date? Doesn’t it start to mold or eventually just get itself done! There’s got to be a shelf life on all that stuff? Folders, folders and more folders! (not to mention the folders within folders) The ever-expanding fissure grows, oozing all those things that should have been dealt with and tidied. But I haven’t emptied the trash, there’s no space in there anymore. You never know, there might be something I need.

Attempting flood management, I shoot out replies…. “I’m sorry for being so late in responding, but …[fill in the blank with about every excuse you can imagine]” These words should be the permanent default setting of all of my outgoing mail. Sometimes, I am so sorry, I practically suck! Piles and piles of unfinished business, and more just keeps pouring in. Over time, the flood has gathered its own tidal force. I’m not surfing; I’m drowning!

In search of distraction from the endless data deluge, I seek contact …yes, a little IRC… I yell, “I’m here and in need of a lifeboat!” Like those seventies soap ads I utter “Calgon take me away, take me away from all this guilt!” But no one is there, just a line of grey icons and small sleeping half moons.