I forgot when writing of my resolutions last week, resolutions for the irresolute, to say that there were two things I especially wanted to do in the new year, first to be able to print out what I’d written on the laptop computer Mary recently gave me, and second, to avail myself of the latitude this might confer, enabled as I would then be to write of nothing in particular from wherever I found myself, whether scaling El Capitan without a rope, sipping absinthe in Montmartre, or twisting the night away in Moscow.
But, because I am so slow on the uptake — and so nervous because of past disasters in which what I’d written and had not “saved” took flight for God knows where, the road to insouciance has been tortuous. A newly-arrived reporter here whom I’ve repeatedly beseeched, shuffling forward with piteous mien and muttered imprecations, much like Charles Laughton in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” has been patient and gracious, and yet. . . .
Not wanting to bother her again, I hailed another co-worker, who used to teach computer courses at the late lamented Southampton College, and told him I couldn’t seem to get over the last hurdle of the transfer. I told him that when I put the disk that had been in my disk drive into the office printer, nothing would come out — nada, nada, nada.
“Ah,” he said, “you’ve got to drag the icon on your desktop into the trash — that will make sure it’s properly ejected. I know it sounds weird. . . .”
With me everything that has to do with computers sounds weird, but if trashing a story or column actually preserved it, I wasn’t going to argue. I opened a new “document,” wrote “yada, yada, yada,” named the file “Yada,” dragged it up into the disk-drive icon, dragged that icon down and into the trash, withdrew the disk, hit “yada.txt” after I’d put it into our printer, and damned if “yada, yada, yada” didn’t materialize on the page!
Jane Callan, who gave me a thumbs-up (a fitting digital-age salute) as I ran speaking in tongues through the otherwise vacant office, everyone having gone home to be with their computers, understood immediately (she being quick on the uptake) that my getting from nada to yada spoke volumes, that it had been, for me, a big step, no mean feat, indeed a leap beyond the Pale — a grace note, if you will, to what had been otherwise a slow news day.