And what am I doing with it? Cleaning.
On the three days per week that I don't have weight training - including Friday - I get home by 1pm. I don't have to leave for swimming until 6:30pm - leaving me a full five and a half hours in which to get myself into mischief. So when I got home this afternoon, I started the 'cleaning ball' rolling by attacking the computer - specifically, my e-mail. I decided to make the switch back to web-based Gmail, because I want to be able to access my most important e-mail account from other computers without having 400 disorganized messages in my Inbox and an overflowing Spam folder. So I filtered all my old messages by date, deleted old address book contacts, made an Excel .csv sheet of the 93 contacts who made the cut and imported them back into Gmail, and cleaned up Outlook to access only my UF and UCU email accounts (the non-essential ones).
Then, once all the mail was done, I updated iTunes and my iPod to the new software versions, then backed up everything on my hard drive for the first time since before I went to the Netherlands in August. I'd made a few small backups since then, of course - one major computer crisis was more than enough to teach me the importance of copies - but I hadn't made one huge backup of EVERYTHING onto my big fancy 80 GB drive in almost six months. And I'd accumulated a good 3 gigs of music since then, not to mention school and miscellaneous stuff. I didn't realize it was that much. It's good to have it all protected again.
See, when I was 19 and studied in the Netherlands for the first time, I was dating a Dutch guy named David. We 'met' over the phone and online via a mutual acquaintance, and he was my first love, first decent kiss, first everything - in short, the guy I thought I was going to marry. I haven't felt like that about anyone before or since. We'd been together seven months by the time I finally got to the country for an extended period, in August 2003, and then two weeks after I arrived, he broke up with me out of the blue. It was the first, last, and only time that I have ever had my heart truly broken, and I dealt with it the way I deal with a lot of major events in my life: I wrote. Over the course of the next three or four weeks, I filled up Word file after Word file with diary entries, stories, poems - anything and everything I felt like writing. And even as it was all pouring out of me, even as I was hurting, I was thinking, This is really good stuff. Now I know firsthand what all those authors meant. I can use this material in future writings, for sure. Or maybe it'll be useful to my daughter someday.
And then, at the end of September... my computer crashed.
To make a very, very long story short, it got shipped back and forth between Utrecht and Friesland three or four times, and I got it back over eight weeks after I dropped it off... with the entire hard drive erased. All that pain, all those tears - gone. Completely gone.
To this day, I deeply regret losing all that material, for personal reasons as well as for purposes of future writing. I don't think the brand-new experience of being dumped by someone you love can really be recreated, even if it does happen again somewhere down the road (ugh). If it happens again, you have a new perspective. You've been there before. You're a little bit older and wiser. Your views have changed. I grew up immeasurably during my time abroad - I think of the high-schooler and college freshman that I used to be, and I cringe. I don't recognize that old Jess. And with that same sort of detached curiosity, I wonder what the nineteen-year-old Jess would have had to say about her first breakup. Even if the emotions and expressions in those Word files struck me as merely shallow or trite or even hilarious now, I know they would have been useful to me as a writer. I remember almost nothing of them now.
At any rate, I learned my lesson, so today I backed up my hard drive. Then I deleted some unnecessary programs, ran every sort of virus scan and adware scan and spyware scan that I own (uncovered two potential viruses hiding out in the registry), and defragmented the drive. I still only have 1.4 gigs of free space, and the machine isn't really running any faster, but at least it feels like I did something.
And now, post-swimming, post-dinner, post-Stepmom-watching, and post-chocolate extravaganza, it's time to tackle my room. This is partially because I'm hoping to uncover my Blue Cross insurance card hiding in some unlikely place - though I doubt it's here - and partly just because I'm in the mood. Unlike many people, I actually enjoy organizing. (Organizing, my friends, is very different from cleaning; this is an important point. If it involves Windex or a vacuum, forget it, but show me a file cabinet and I'll sit still for hours.) And Monique is home in Coral Springs for the weekend (it's her birthday), so I have all Marco Borsato's songs on shuffle and I'm singing along and straightening up. The mess has been accumulating for about a month now, so this is a long time coming. So far, I've hung up all my clean clothes from last weekend, organized my various swim gear, started a bag full of stuff that can go home to Jacksonville, made my bed (yes, at 1:00 in the morning), and shoved all the Internet paraphernalia (which I'm hoping to never need again) into the Cox box (hey, I'm a poet and don't know it!) and stuck it on the top shelf of my closet. I still have a lot of papers to organize, as well as some homework to do - and it would be nice if I could get this scrapbooking stuff off the floor and organize my (drawerless) desk a little better - but the nice thing about all this is that I don't have to wake up early tomorrow. Usually I have to play grown-up and tell myself to go to bed around midnight, since I have 9:30 classes every morning, and even on the weekends I usually have a swim meet or Jacksonville swim practice or a trip home or a skydiving adventure or something which requires my upright and alert presence. Tomorrow, no such thing exists. Therefore I plan to stay up until I get all the cleaning and some of the homework done, and then sleep the contented sleep of having NO obligations... or at least as few as possible, with my life.
The weekend: doing some scrapbooking, finishing allllll my almost-60 online Quia exercises for French (which are pointless), doing some Latin sentences and studying for a quiz, swimming on my own at the O'Dome on Sunday night (since we have no practice on Wednesday due to the basketball game), doing some pharmacy shopping, and possibly going home to Jacksonville tomorrow afternoon; we'll see.