Bricked

2010-11-18

It's amazing how quickly things can fall to pieces on you.  Today was just one of those shitty, shitty days.

Content in this post is restricted to people in the Crazy People, Coders and Friends groups.

If you've been following my facebook and twitter, you'd know that this hasn't been an easy last week or so.  On Friday of last week I got a letter in the mail letting me know that I apparently owe seven grand to HCMC from my mental breakdown this past summer.  A breakdown that was mostly caused by the fact that I didn't have any money whatsoever, didn't really know even how I was going to buy food let alone pay rent.  It was a very stressful time for me, to say the least, and getting this notice put that fear back into me a little bit.  It was OK, though, because I also had really good news that same morning on the freelance front, picked up a decent gig that was going to turn into potentially a lot more work down the road. 

I'm getting to learn to roll with it.  In my life, there is never any good news or bad news on it's own.  It is always, without fail, good news with bad news on the back side, or vice versa.  It seems impossible for me to just be happy, even every time that I think 'yes, things are good' it is a sure-fire way to have something amazingly bad happen.  I know there are probably people that will tell me I'm crazy for thinking this, but I've seen it so very many times.  The better the news is, the happier I am, the worse the slap of reality in my face will be. 

So before the weekend, it was good news that I had work, but bad news that I had a whole lot more debt.  They had the wrong address for me, so I didn't know that this bill was sitting around for the last 4 or 5 months waiting to slap me upside the head.  In fact, because it was a mandatory involuntary treatment, because I was taken away to the hospital against my will by police officers and EMTs who shot me full of sedatives and then kept me in the 'high escape risk' ward of Hennepin County Medical Center, I thought maybe it was supposed to be the state that paid for it.  In fact, after my dad's friend Dess did some digging, the law seems to be on my side for that.  If you don't have insurance, it's the state that pays.  Unfortunately for me, they might have simply taken me to a private medical center, I'm not sure what HCMC counts as.  So it could be that since I went to a private facility, I'm responsible.  Though the cops were supposed to take me to the state facility in that situation.  I really don't know.  I called the Henn county ombudsman for mental health issues and they straight up lied to me and said that Minnesota was not one of the states with protections for the mentally ill - most other states it's covered if you need to be placed on that 72 hour hold.  It's supposed to be something that's to help people, not to cause them more mental anguish.

I don't know what's going to happen with it, but I talked to someone at HCMC on Monday and she said that I might be able to get some of it waived, I need to get them proof of my income (or lack thereof) and then they can find out what I qualify for.  If nothing else, I can make payments, I mean, I have a good line on work, so I can just focus on that and try to make sure that I'm covering my bills going forward.  It's OK.  It's going to be OK.  I'm fine, everything is good, everything is not perfect, but it's OK.  OK is good.  OK isn't manic, OK isn't depressed, OK is bummed but stable.  OK is functional, I can live with OK.

So I spent a good chunk of Monday through Wednesday working on the code for this freelance gig.  It was coming together nicely.  A couple gotchyas, a few things that I was going to need to figure out and maybe a user attribute that I was going to have to create that didn't exist in the Concrete5 CMS, but still, it would all be OK, I know this. 

I mean, I still know this, I'm mostly writing now just to vent.  I don't want people freaking out because I'm fucking posting on the damn internet.  It's what keeps me from even wanting to publish anything at all, the fear that when I simply try to write down and express where I'm at people will take it as much more of an issue than it really is.  It's not a big deal.  It sucks, but I can deal with it.  I'm not so fragile that my world is going to fall apart over something like this.  I'm not a danger to myself or others when I post negative things, when I express anger or frustration at the world I live in and the insanity of it all.  I write for myself, but I do not write in a vacuum.  I want people to read it, I want people to understand.  That's what the whole point of communication IS.  I don't want to just post up on some hidden blog that nobody ever reads, that's not what I feel I need.  I need to know that I've actually spoken to someone.  Anyone.  It doesn't matter who.  I don't care who reads it, I don't care how they take it.  I don't really even want a response.  I just want to know that my message has been recieved, otherwise, it is not a message, it is just noise.  I might as well be screaming into my pillow in a little rubber room if the words are not heard.

Hopefully that makes sense to you, my dear reader.  Hopefully you read it and understand.

So yeah, I was thinking everything was going to be OK.  I had set up skype and google voice and did a lot of coding and a lot of research and I was on track and everything was good, and I felt like it was OK for me to take a break from trying to make money by writing words into a computer, words which tell the computer what to do, not words that stick into the mind of another human on the other end of my communication stream soaking up the things that I'm saying.  But still.  Words.  Logic.  Thought.  My thoughts, made real through the keyboard and the power of this thing called language.

I went into the bedroom and I took my clothes to the basement to begin washing them.  I tore the dirty blankets and sheets off of the bed and put them into the empty hamper and started digging through the papers that I keep in the closet, that were piled up needing to be gone through anyway.  Trying to make sure that I had all of my bank statements for the year, looking for everything.  It was not something I really wanted to do, I know that looking at this stuff and seeing the disconnection notices and the past due notices and the history of my self as a member of a fiscal world.  I don't get money, really, I mean, I know what it is, I know how to use it, but I forget it.  It's worthless to me.  I care about so many things that don't have anything at all to do with money.  I do my very best to keep track of my finances and make sure that I pay my bills on time, but it doesn't always happen.  It probably never will happen.  It is another one of those things I'm just learning to deal with, and I've gotten a little better about it. 

So the first thought through my head when the power went out was 'did I remember to pay the power bill?'

Honestly, I don't know.  I haven't gotten a disconnect notice recently, so I assume that the answer is yes.  It wasn't that that sent the power out in my building, it was a crew of men in a boom truck at the end of my alley that knocked it out for the entire block.  No harm, no foul, I mean, it was starting to get dark so I couldn't sort through the papers that were now completely covering my bed.  I could check the time on my cell phone to see how long my frozen pizza had been in the oven and hope that I didn't burn it or pull it out too early.  I even managed to find a wireless signal on my laptop and checked a couple facebook and twitter posts while I was waiting for them to turn the power back on.  Just a little set back, a forced break.  It's OK.  I'm good with it, I can deal with it.  I had to stop to eat anyway, though I've been a little bad about doing that the last couple of days.  I browsed looking at a sampling of dream houses around the world - though really, at 250K, not all that bad for most of them.  Daydreamed about how nice it would be to cut and run, to leave the country and work doing my web development stuff from some other country, where the climate is better, the food is nicer, the living is cheaper, but still keep charging the same rates as I charge to live in the US.

The power came back on and I noticed a friend coming online, chatted with her a little bit about nothing important, still sitting on the end of my bed.  10 minutes probably passed by before I walked into the living room to power back on my desktop computer and make sure it was alright.

I could hear from the kitchen that the fan was going, which surprised me, because I hadn't hit the power button.  I walked further into the living room and a pit started growing in my stomach.  I could hear the hard drive making a scratch/clunk kind of noise.  It was a free hard drive from the web development and hosting company I worked at briefly this summer.  It was pulled out of production because it tested with bad sectors or something, but it had unknown hours of read/write access on it.  And I've been driving it pretty hard with the bittorent stuff, it was probably in the middle of a write operation when the power went out, and the arm didn't go back into place.  At least, that would be my guess.  At any rate, it would not boot.  I tried powering down the computer and powering back on, I had to pull the power cord out to get it to actually even power down.  Not a good sign at all.  I pulled the drive out and put it in the freezer for 15 minutes.  No good. Tried to take it apart and maybe find some little piece that was bent or something that could be causing the awful, awful noise.  No luck, in fact, I broke a screwdriver off inside of it trying to pry it apart.

I believe the technical term for this hard drive is 'bricked' because it is now nothing other than a brick.

Everything that I did for the last three days coding this site went poof.  My development environment is gone.  My windows Virtual Machine with my Adobe CS4 install that I use for my other freelance work is gone.  The movies I wanted to watch are gone.  Just 'poof' and into thin air.

I mean, I still have my knowledge of what I did on the code, I can set it up again.  I will probably deliver the first portion of the project on Monday instead of Friday, that's all.

But it still sent me spiraling.  I was already just kind of on the edge.  I found myself knocking on my neighbor's doors trying to get the name of the construction company sure that I could sue them for lost wages and time and equipment.  Found myself working feverishly all night to make sure that I had everything installed and working on my laptop so that I can start over bright and early tomorrow morning, because of course, it's impossible for me to take the time to actually set up another full Ubuntu install with everything that I need.  I'll probably actually lose about two days trying to get everything set up and working once I have a new hard drive. 

All night I found myself wishing that I had something to make me stop, to make me just put things down and go to bed.  I'm writing this at 2:21am, I'm still working on configuring xdebug.  I've totally set up windows as a virtual machine, though, and set up my local environment as far as the LAMP stack goes.  So it's just xdebug that I have left to figure out, and then I'm OK, I can stop, I can go to bed and go to sleep.

Three or four years ago, I would have had an answer for that, I would have been hitting the bottle of Jameson heavily as soon as the power went out, and harder once I learned how screwed I really was.

Now?

I don't know.  I have nothing.  The one thing that I found myself really wanting was the company of another human, which is very odd for me because I normally do so well simply being by myself.  How is it that things have changed so much for me? I don't know, really.  I don't understand a lot of things.

The things I do understand I'm working on.  They're coming together.  The things I don't I might never understand.  I don't know if I'm ever going to have the kind of relationship with another person where I could turn to them when it all falls apart like it did tonight, someone to be there and help me make sense of everything. 

So, back to work, I guess.  Just this one last thing, and then I can go lie in my clean sheets with my dirty and tired body.  And tomorrow I can work on doing everything I did since Friday over again.  It should be fun.  Yeah, that's the ticket, it will be fun.

The plus side, I guess is that I finally will have my laptop 100% set up and ready to use as a real development platform.  Even if it is only about 40% of the CPU of my desktop and 25% of the RAM.  It will still perform every task I need, albeit slowly.  That means that technically, I could still work even if I lose my house, if I was living out of the cargo on my bicycle and traveling across the country in search of something.

There's got to be a silver lining in this somewhere.