Deleted Scenes: Mourning The Machine

It’s 1:36 a.m., and I may have just shut down my computer for the last time.

I should probably explain. Obviously it’s not the computer I’m typing on now, which is a laptop I rarely if ever actually put on my lap because I’m afraid it’ll give me testicular cancer (true story). I’m talking about the desktop PC—how gauche, I know—I’ve had since shortly after I got married in 2004, and on which the bulk of the writing I’ve done since that time was done. Word documents dating back to when I was in college, old email lists for bands no longer in existence, countless reviews, interviews both transcribed and abandoned, stories, even a misguided—or perhaps “unguided” is a better word for it—novel and an outline for a second I never wrote. All done on that machine.

You know how many megabytes of data it was? Twenty-nine. That’s a depressing thought, isn’t it? If you ever want to inspire some decent nihilism about your life, see what you amount to in digital terms. Makes the head hurt, though probably less so if you’re a video editor, specialist in hi-resolution photography or something of that sort.

The oldest file I had on there was the “Inside A Thick Metal Skull” column (now known as “The Heavy”) from the Aug. 11, 2004, issue. As I zipped up the “JJ Koczan” folder—what else to call it?—and made ready to send it to myself, I opened the file just to have a peak. That week I reviewed a Shroud Of Despondency split and a disc from a band called Amps II Eleven, whose album I still have, though it’s packed away in storage with others I’ll probably never listen to again but can’t seem to get rid of. The copy was a mess. I had two spaces between every sentence—one wasn’t even punctuated—and the titles were all wrong. My tabs were off. I didn’t even put a zero before the “8” in the file name, so it came after the double-digit months even though it ran before. I didn’t even know what an em-dash was! I mean, come on. What was I thinking?

But yeah, when all was said and zipped, 29 megs. I had to add a couple other odds and ends (my CD catalog Excel file and assorted others) to top 30 and make myself feel better about it. And I know it’s a silly thing to get sentimental about a computer, but I can say with 100 percent certainty that over the last seven years I’ve spent more time with that machine than I have with my blood relatives, and some of my most honest and intimate moments—and I’m not even just talking about masturbating, either, though I’m more than ready to admit we’re rarely as sincere as we are when getting ourselves off—took place at its altar, so it’s not so much the PC itself as it is the hours and the work I’m thinking about. With all the repairs, upgrades, etc., it’s practically a different computer than it was when it started out anyway. Not like I miss the old RAM chips.

When I ran the Windows shut down process, the computer didn’t even turn off right away. Usually, I just leave it running, which is probably terrible of me, but the ambient blue light from the case stayed on after it was ostensibly off, like a body winding itself down after being taken off life-support. Then the light cut out, and honestly, I probably could have tried to turn it on again, just to see what would happen, but I didn’t. I came downstairs instead, fired up this laptop—practically saturated in potency by comparison; very much the young lion—and wrote this column.

I listened to a lot of good music on that computer, and wrote a lot of really awful crap (some vaguely acceptable stuff too). If it’s really dead—and given the loud, throes-esque struggling noises it’s been making the last several days, that’s the safer bet—it had a good run. No complaints.

In the market,

JJ Koczan