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          It’s with a heavy sigh and an ever-hardening heart that I have to report that my hard drive crashed for the third time the other day. Not in one day, mind you, but in the two years I’ve had it. Thanks to my computer-saavy friends, it was determined that my hard drive has some bad sectors. Bill, frowningly, suggested strongly that the damage was consistent with having thrown the computer down from a great height while it was running. I have no reason to lie to him, or you, and I maintain that it never happened. As a matter of fact, since replacing the last hard drive, the computer has, for the most part, stayed at home on my desk, waiting – possibly impatiently, possibly resignedly – for me.  Bill reports that he once was shown a computer that was used by a tractor mechanic, who complained that it didn’t seem to work right. Bill surmised correctly that it might have something to do with the tire-track slashed muddily across the top of the laptop, for the mechanic had indeed driven over it – but the hard drive was not damaged. Unlike mine.

          This just a day after I got my second replacement satellite radio, after waiting a month for it because no one believed it could have died so young. Of course I still have no heat, since the third and final computer in that system failed and now the back-up boiler doesn’t even work intermittently. I’d be out cutting fantastic amounts of firewood if it wasn’t for the fact that my chain saws only work on occasion.  It won’t be long before the radiant floor tubing freezes and my house just gives up pretending that it has any regard for me at all and goes ahead and explodes. This year-long string of bad luck is what made me panic yesterday when I couldn’t find my pick up. I had gone to Helena to meet my old college friend’s daughter, who was traveling through the state, and as I was late (because as I got ready to go, I placed a couple of hand-made mugs in a bag to bring for her and in a freak accident, one of them burst into several pieces upon contact with the back seat. I swear, Bill, I did not throw it viciously to the floor…and then I had to go back up to the studio to search out another mother-daughter pair of mugs, and then I got a flat tire on the way, and after that I was stuck behind slow van full of tourists) I parked hurriedly and raced down the street to the restaurant at which I was to meet her.

          We had a nice lunch, and I got to hear all about Katie’s plans to attend college next year, and the exciting news that she was being recruited as a soccer player by several schools. She reported the surprising news that there is no longer a national women’s soccer team, despite the meteoric fame of Mia Hamm. But Katie would know, as she herself is approaching the launch pad for her own jet-fueled career. Title Nine, it seems, was not enough to get our country to support women’s sports – especially those which don’t involve pixies in leotards prancing prettily in a complete absence of uncouth sweat. But I digress. Katie had to get back to Colorado, so we finished our meals and, after walking to her car, we parted ways.

          I went back to the street where I had parked my truck, and it wasn’t there. I walked up and down the street several times, passing the stairwell I’d used to get down to the street upon which the restaurant was located. I identified the truck I thought I’d parked behind, pulling up a little to close to it in order to get the cab of my truck, and thus my precious dog, Allie, in the shade. I checked the signs, which said “2 hour parking, $200 fine”, but they didn’t say “violators will be towed”. So was my truck stolen? I checked the sign again for a number to call. None. There was something wrong about the sign, though. I could have sworn it had said “permit required” when I rushed past it on the way to the restaurant. I didn’t have a permit, but I didn’t have time to get one, and it was almost five, when the meter-maids clock out, so it was a calculated risk. Could I be on the wrong street now? It was hard to think amid the hyperventilation and the visions of Allie being hauled to the pound whilst my truck was similarly impounded, and the hour was after five, so surely they’d say I couldn’t spring either one of them until tomorrow, long after I had to be at work, and who knew if Betty was available to fill in for me, so did that mean I’d ditch the job in favor of rescuing Allie? Yes. No question there.

          In the meantime I was pacing the street, darting up side streets and recounting to myself the journey to my parking space; did I pass the museum? Is the museum on this street? My certainty that my truck and my dog were either stolen or detained grew exponentially simply because everything else has gone so very, very wrong it seemed predestined that I’d lose my job, my dog, my truck and my sanity in one swell foop. Oh, wait, the sanity is already gone, the job is a burden, the truck is just money I don’t have, but Allie? She was waiting for me patiently in my truck on another street. But my hard drive is still crashed, and I have no heat, and……oh, shut up.


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