The tale of Catherine and the new phone

Once upon a time I got a new phone (once upon a time being yesterday).

I arranged it all over the phone with Bell on the weekend and my new phone was picked up at the post office last night (thanks mom!). On the one hand this is great because it meant I didn’t have to go into the store and stand around while they set everything up, and while my brain became increasingly deprived of an adequate blood and oxygen supply. On the other hand it meant that I had to set everything up myself. Oh boy.

It really shouldn’t be a big deal, I know, and I am actually more tech-savvy than I give myself credit for. That said, something about new technology just stresses me out. It’s almost as if I see technology as this force that happens to be very fickle and moody, switching from superhero to villain at will. And if you think I sound crazy you should know that for the last few days my phone was refusing to send text messages…as if it knew it was about to be made obsolete…what do you make of that, huh? Still Think I’m crazy?

Yes, you probably do, and that’s okay because I probably am.

Anyway, yesterday happened to be an over-tired and extra symptomatic day for me. It’s not really a bad thing, though, it’s just because I’ve been busier than normal lately. In amongst the usual appointments I’ve been spending more time with friends and family which has been a welcome change. But of course, I also have to pay some extra dues for this and be a hermit for a little while.

Now, over-tired Catherine plus new technology equals a recipe for disaster. Always. After many such disasters I proudly decided last night that I would wait until today to deal with the new phone and save myself unnecessary frustration. How self-aware and mature of me!

But the box was so pretty so then I wanted to look at the pretty phone inside. Just look at it, though. I opened the pretty box and took out the pretty phone and then I got all caught up in the prettiness and decided that setting it up really wouldn’t be that hard so I might as well just do it.

The first problem was that I didn’t know where to start. Just after I sent a “help I don’t know what I’m doing” message to a tech-savvy friend I found a set of instructions. I love instructions! Any technological feat is possible with a good set of instructions! The instructions informed me that I was first supposed to insert the new sim card using the instructions that came with the phone.

And now we arrive at problem number two: I couldn’t find any instructions for inserting the sim card. Oh, I should also point out that the smaller a piece of technology is the scarier I find it. And sim cards are very small.

Cue next message to said tech-savvy friend: THERE ARE NO SIM CARD INSTRUCTIONS.

I’ll spare you the harrowing details and jump to the denouement: I successfully inserted the new sim card. Every night I go through the detailed process of setting up my TPN and if I make a mistake the consequences include possible life-threatening infection…no sweat…yet setting up a new phone I find overwhelming. Logical, I know.

Okay, so now I’m ready for step two: go to bell.ca/upgrade and login. Easy! I can do that.

That’s when the universe intervened. I logged in and got this message:

“Hardware device upgrade is currently unavailable.”

And then I genuinely laughed out loud. I was smart enough to know that I was too tired to deal with setting up my new phone but I wasn’t wise enough to just wait. Thanks to the universe, though, I was forced to wait and thus avoided unnecessary confusion and exasperation. I suppose it’s possible that the system was actually down because the fickle and moody force that is technology was just out to get me, but I’m more of a glass half full kind of person so I’m going to stick with the idea that the universe was looking out for me.

So after all that (all that really only being a few minutes) I put the pretty phone back in the pretty box and left it for the next day. The best part? The sim card was already in so I wouldn’t have to go through that again!

You’re all probably on the edge of your seats now wondering how the tale of Catherine setting up her new phone ends and I can proudly tell you that this story has a happily ever after. Here is proof:

Technology and I in a mutual state of distrustHooray the new phone works!

My old phone and I making skeptical eyes at each other, followed by excited thumbs up. Both pictures taken with my new phone, being sure to include the old phone as proof that the new one is working!

Since I apparently have a habit of reflecting on my problems with technology and turning them into life lessons (case in point this other post) let me add a moral to this fable. Life is not a race. Obviously I’m not suggesting we all start ignoring work and school deadlines or showing up late everywhere, but we shouldn’t be afraid to do things at our own speed. It’s okay to wait when we’re tired and it’s okay if our own timeline differs from someone else’s. We don’t have to jump to newer and faster right away, but instead do what feels right for us.

And it’s probably a good idea to listen to that voice in our heads when it tells us to take a break. We need to look out for ourselves because the universe won’t always do it for us.

The end.

Until, of course, the next time I ignore my own advice and duke it out with technology only to learn some life lesson from it and then come share that lesson with you…

Life lessons from the Apple store

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t really like change, especially change that I can’t control. To be even more specific, I don’t like change associated with technology. Software, operating systems and apps always need to be updated! And as soon as you update something and get used to the changes, a new one is released. My response to all of these updates is for the most part to ignore them.

Example one: I’ve had my iPhone since November 2012 and until last month I had never updated the operating system. Even then, I only did it because everyone kept telling me my outdated system was a security threat.

Example two: I got my macbook almost five years ago and the operating system it came with is the one I stuck with until last summer when my outdated system prevented me from downloading new programs. I decided it was time to update. Before I did, I backed up everything on my computer just like the instructions told me to. My understanding was that when you updated to a new operating system, all your files would be wiped off your computer. I was quite excited when that didn’t happen!

Right after this update, yet another new operating system came out. I ignored it for eight months. Until yesterday. Yesterday I decided to get with it and update my computer. I had no problems before, so I assumed it would be the same this time and I didn’t back up my files. My mistake, I know.

That’s when my computer had a meltdown (the good news is that I did not have a meltdown alongside it!) and told me that my hard drive was damaged and could not be repaired. I used my mom’s computer to google some solutions, but everything I found was way beyond my comprehension. Instead, I made a reservation at the Apple store Genius Bar and spent the rest of the evening working on my jigsaw puzzle (my jigsaw puzzle that is a picture of yarn…sometimes I really think I’m in the wrong generation…).

Good news – the Genius Bar guy was very nice and helpful. As an added bonus, he explained things using really great analogies without making me feel stupid! And it was free. Bad news – he had to erase my hard drive. Let me remind you that I did not back up my computer first. The good-ish part about this is that as I have been convalescing since I last backed up my files, I didn’t lose too many important documents.

While I (surprisingly) wasn’t stressed about my computer last night, I was annoyed. Don’t I have enough to deal with right now? Do I really need to go to yet another appointment?

Today, however, I have some new perspective. I’m always looking for learning opportunities, and believe it or not, I was reminded of some life lessons at the Apple store.

First of all, meltdowns happen (again, my computer, not me). It’s okay to get stuck and admit we are in over our heads. It’s okay to be overwhelmed by change. And it’s okay to take some time out.

As soon as I couldn’t fix my computer by restarting it (my go-to solution) I figured that I would have to take it to the Apple store.  This brings me to lesson number two – it’s okay to ask for help. This has been heavily reinforced to me over the last year and a half with all of my medical issues. There are people who spent anywhere from four to thirteen years in school learning how to deal with health problems like mine and I would be foolish not to get their help. But it’s not just medical problems. Whether it is a technology problem, a comprehension problem, an emotional problem, an I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-my-life problem, whatever it may be, there are people out there who can help. Here’s a really simple example: if my sister wants a baby blanket for her friend who is expecting, she’s going to come to me, but If I need help with calculus, I’m going to go to her, the high school math teacher. We all have our own skills and our own areas of expertise. I think that in this day and age, where so much information is online, we often feel like we should be able to solve our own problems. The internet can be a good place to start, but there is only so much help it can give. We get stuck there, going around in circles looking for answers only to end up frustrated. There is no shame in admitting we don’t know something. In reaching out and seeking help we also make connections with people that we might not have made otherwise, and that can be a beautiful thing.

And life lesson number three? Sometimes we just need to start over. This can be scary, but trying something new, taking a new approach, or going in a different direction might be exactly what we need. My computer’s hard drive has been completely erased – no pictures, no documents, no settings or preferences. Yes, this means that I have to upload all my files, but it also means that I get to pick and choose what I really need on my computer. Making a fresh start is a chance to re-evaluate our priorities and put our focus on what’s most important. I have to re-set all my preferences and settings, but this means that I get to look through all the options again and maybe I will set things up in a way that I like even better than how it was before. We tend to get stuck in our routines until we are forced to make a change, but sometimes that change can have a really positive impact on the rest of our lives. Sometimes that changes brings about new opportunities. And yes, I lost some files. In terms of my computer, I can guarantee you that I will never again update without backing up my files first. In terms of the bigger picture, loss is a part of life. Maybe it makes way for bigger and better things, maybe it allows us to move on, or maybe it just teaches us to be grateful for what we have, to do what we can to hold on to the good things. Whatever the outcome, loss happens.

So there you go, that’s what I learned at the Apple store today.

I also learned some things about computers, but if I tried to put that into a blog post, it would probably be the most confusing and unhelpful post ever.

Besides, I think these reminders are more important.